This week, the Tennessee Department of Agriculture added Rhea and Morgan counties to a list of East Tennessee counties under quarantine after the discovery of Thousand Cankers Disease in black walnut trees.
Thousand Cankers Disease (TCD) is a condition that robs black walnut trees of their nutrients. It’s transported from tree to tree by the Walnut Twig Beetle, a tiny bug that burrows into the tree, bringing with it a deadly fungus. Experts suggest the tree can die within a few years of being infected.
Knox, Anderson, Blount, Jefferson, Loudoun, Sevier and Union counties are already quarantined. People in those counties are prohibited from moving the wood from walnut trees into other counties. The culprit is often firewood, but infected walnut is also transported by woodworkers, who use the sturdy, attractive wood to make bowls, sculptures and other handicrafts.
TCD has already devastated large stands of walnut trees in the western US, but Department of Agriculture Plant Certification Administrator Walker Gray Haun tells WUOT News he’s not sure if that will happen in East Tennessee. “When you have something out West and you move it to the East, you have a different environment. So we’re still trying to get a grasp on just what it’s going to do.”
While the wood from black walnut trees is quarantined, the nut itself is not. “(The nut) doesn’t really carry the beetle,” says Haun. “It’s the wood itself that carries the beetle.”