A four-year, seven-state reforestation trial with eastern hemlocks (Tsuga canadensis) resistant to hemlock woolly adelgid (Adelges tsugae).
We conducted over a decade of research into individual eastern hemlock (Tsuga canadensis; hemlock) trees that are potentially resistant to hemlock woolly adelgid (Adelges tsugae; HWA), an invasive xylem-feeding insect that is capable of rapidly killing even mature trees. Following clonal propagation of these individuals, in 2015 we planted size- and age-matched HWA-resistant and HWA-susceptible hemlocks in HWA-infested forest plots in seven states. In 2019, we re-surveyed the plots; 96% of HWA-resistant hemlocks survived compared to 48% of susceptible trees. The surviving HWA-resistant trees were also taller, produced more lateral growth, retained more foliage, and supported lower densities of the elongate hemlock scale Fiorinia externa, another invasive hemlock pest, than the surviving HWA-susceptible trees. Our results suggest that HWA management may benefit from additional research exploring the identification, characterization, and use of HWA-resistant eastern hemlocks in future reforestation efforts.