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Environment and Outdoors

Experts: White Pine Fungus Spreading in Maine

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) _ State forestry and entomology experts say a fungal disease affecting white pines is growing worse.

William Ostrofsky, forest pathologist for the Maine Forest Service, said Wednesday that white pine needle disease, possibly exacerbated by above-average rainfall, has reached epidemic proportions in Maine, mostly in southwestern and central-western parts of the state.

State Entomologist Dave Struble tells the Portland Press Herald  that York, Cumberland and southern Oxford counties have shown a heavier concentration than some other areas, in part because white pines flourish in the sandy soils common to those areas.

The fungus infects needles early in spring and moves through the tree during summer and fall. The following year, in early to mid-June when the weather warms, one-year-old needles become discolored and drop off. The disease leaves the tree weakened.