(Megan Kennelly, KSU Plant Pathology)
Pine wilt has been killing our pines for decades. It is caused by a nematode (microscopic worm) that is spread by a beetle. The nematodes and beetles spend the winter in dead and dying trees. The beetles, loaded up with nematodes, start emerging in late April or early May and spread to new trees. Got pine wilt? Get that tree outta there! Chop it down, and burn or chip the wood, making sure not to leave stumps. Get this done in early April to stop disease spread.
If you have a dead pine in the eastern 2/3 of Kansas it could very well be pine wilt. Sure, it could be something else, like drought, but if it’s dead anyway you might as well assume it is pine wilt, and get it out and destroyed. You can send a sample in to KSU for testing if you want to know.
And, if you suspect pine wilt in the western part of the state, contact your local county K-State Research and Extension agent for help. Not only do we want it destroyed, we want to know where it is so we can understand where disease is spreading. (Find your agent here: https://www.ksre.k-state.edu/about/stateandareamaps.html)
Entirely dead tree? Cut it down and destroy the wood by chipping or burning.
Pines have multiple problems though, such as tip blight and Dothistroma needle blight. If you have any doubt you can work with your KSRE Extension agent to ship a sample up to KSU. For more information on pine diseases, and how to tell them apart, check out our publication about Pine Diseases in Kansas