Had a forestry consultant along to look at the wood today and it seems likely that my Corsican Pines have a disease called Dothristroma. It is not surprising as most Corsican Pines have this disease and if they haven’t then they will have very soon.
I’ts a fungus and it causes the needles to fall off which does not help the tree grow very well. Each year the new needles get infected and each year they fall off so in effect you only ever have one year’s worth of needles at any one time which makes the canopy look quite sparse. I will have to check the needles as if they have the disease then the ends are reddish brown but the bases remain green. I must say that I did not notice this on the trees I have felled but then again I was not looking that closely at the needles.
It appears that you do not have to notify DEFRA or anyone if the trees are in an established woodland and you are not obliged to fell the trees as with some other diseases. If the disease is found in young trees in a nursery however then you do have to notify them. I think the authorities recognise that nothing can be done to prevent it killing virtually all Corsican Pines and after all who really cares about Corsican Pine apart from its value as a short lived commercial tree? The problem is what will commercial foresters plant instead? Also one does not want it spreading to the native Scot’s Pine in the Caledonian Forests in Scotland.
The end result of the disease is that after a few years the tree dies and then a few years after that the timber will not be saleable as timber but will still be saleable as biofuel for a few more years, but of course it’s value will decrease slightly.
So the decision of whether to fell or not to fell has been made for us and now it’s a matter of felling as gently as possible to preserve as many as possible of the understorey of young deciduous trees, getting a felling licence and getting as good a price for the trees as possible.
Thanks to the Forestry Commission for the photo, which I borrowed from their site on Dothristroma. If my trees have got it then I will photograph the needles and replace their photo with my own.
There is an update on this disease which I published in 2016 called UPDATE