Tree Notes is about trees -- especially native trees, trees for wildlife, and trees in history.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Tiny insect is big problem for Louisville Slugger

Ash baseball bats threatened by emerald ash borer

The Louisville Slugger is a baseball bat that has been manufactured in Louisville, KY, since 1884. Though also available in aluminum and maple, the traditional Louisville Slugger is made of white ash -- and not just any white ash.

The process of making a Louisville Slugger begins with selecting the timber itself. Although maple is rapidly gaining in popularity among today’s pros, the majority of bats are made from white ash. However, not just any white ash can become a Louisville Slugger. In fact, the only ash up to Louisville Slugger standards grows along a 200-mile stretch of land on the New York-Pennsylvania border. The soil, rain, sun – everything is just right there. That’s where the best bats in the world, Louisville Slugger bats, come from.

Source: Slugger Magazine

As you might imagine, the Louisville Slugger Company is concerned about the emerald ash borer, an Asian insect that has been wreaking havoc among North America ash trees. The emerald ash borer has spread through parts of Canada, Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, Maryland, llinois, Michigan, and Indiana. As of yet, the insect has not reached the area where the ash timber for Louisville Sluggers is produced.

Ash borer tunnels
Emerald ash borer tunnels under an ash tree's bark. Photo by National Park Service
The Louisville Slugger company is bracing itself for the possibility that the emerald ash borer will reach and destroy the ash forests that produce Slugger lumber. Company labs are conducting research on other woods for bats, especially beech.

In a press release about the Emerald Ash, the Louisville Slugger company urges the public to avoid transporting firewood. When firewood is moved out of the area where it was cut, the emerald ash borer may ride along, expanding its range far more rapidly than the insect could do without human assistance.

Only time can tell what will happen to America's ash trees. We certainly hope for a solution to the emerald ash borer problem, but you might want to buy an ash Louisville Slugger bat (link opens a PDF) while you still can.

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2 comments -- please add yours:

eastcoastdweller said...

How many more trees are we going to lose before we change the habits that endanger them. Chestnuts, elms, hemlocks and now the ash -- are we going to be left with nothing but ailanthus and Norway maples?


Thanks so much for including me on your list of blogs. I have just subscribed to you in my reader. Perhaps I can use your page to help me identify some of the trees on our little plot of grass. I know little about trees except that I like them very much.

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Enrich your life with the study of trees.

"The power to recognize trees at a glance without examining their leaves or flowers or fruit as they are seen, for example, from the car-window during a railroad journey, can only be acquired by studying them as they grow under all possible conditions over wide areas of territory. Such an attainment may not have much practical value, but once acquired it gives to the possessor a good deal of pleasure which is denied to less fortunate travelers."

Charles Sprague Sargent (1841-1927)

Print references I frequently consult

Benvie, Sam. Encyclopedia of North American Trees. Buffalo, NY: Firefly, 2000.

Brockman, C. Frank. Trees of North America: A Guide to Field Identification. Ed. Herbert S. Zim. New York: Golden, 1986.

Cliburn, Jerry, and Ginny Clomps. A Key to Missouri Trees in Winter: An Identification Guide. Conservation Commission of the State of Missouri, 1980.

Collingwood, G. H., Warren David Brush, and Devereux Butcher. Knowing Your Trees. Washington: American Forestry Association, 1978.

Dirr, Michael. Dirr's Hardy Trees and Shrubs: an Illustrated Encyclopedia. Portland, Or.: Timber, 1997.

Elias, Thomas S. The Complete Trees of North America; Field Guide and Natural History. New York: Book Division, Times Mirror Magazines, 1980.

Grimm, William Carey. The Book of Trees;. Harrisburg, PA: Stackpole, 1962.

Hightshoe, Gary L. Native Trees, Shrubs, and Vines for Urban and Rural America: a Planting Design Manual for Environmental Designers. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1988.

Little, Elbert L. National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Trees. New York: Chanticleer, 1996.

Martin, Alexander C., Herbert S. Zim, and Arnold L. Nelson. American Wildlife and Plants. New York: McGraw Hill, 1951.

Mitchell, Alan F., and David More. The Trees of North America. New York, NY: Facts On File Publications, 1987.

Randall, Charles E. Enjoying Our Trees. Washington: American Forestry Association, 1969.

Settergren, Carl D., and R. E. McDermott. Trees of Missouri. Columbia: University Extension, 1995.

Sternberg, Guy, and James W. Wilson. Native Trees for North American Landscapes: from the Atlantic to the Rockies. Portland: Timber, 2004.

Wharton, Mary E., and Roger W. Barbour. Trees and Shrubs of Kentucky. Lexington: University of Kentucky, 1973.

Wyman, Donald. Trees for American Gardens. New York: Macmillan, 1965.

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