Question: In Peter Smallidge's most recent "Ask a Professional" column for NYFOA's Forest Owner magazine he stated that some log buyers will reject ash that shows outward signs of "blonding" on the bark. Is this because the wood will change chemically in some way in response to the stress from EAB feeding? I ask because I recently harvested some white ash on my property from lightly blonded trees that exhibited some uneven, blotchy coloration in the sapwood, as if the chemicals in the heartwood had bled over into the sapwood unevenly. The wood was fully sound structurally, but aesthetically this wood was clearly degraded, as it is really not a great look for woodworking purposes. Bottom line: I am wondering if I should attempt to harvest all my remaining ash before it suffers a similar fate, but am pressed for time, and my woodshed is already full....Thoughts? Thanks.

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Hi Jeff:

The context of the concerns that I heard about harvesting ash were about the brittleness of the wood and its shattering upon impact.  The discoloration of wood wasn't discussed, so it may or may not be related.

I have not heard of or seen the color pattern you described. I'm familiar with what's described as "brown heart" of ash, but I think you're describing isolated patches and not the coloration of the core of the stem. I will check with a couple portable bandsaw sawyers to see if they have experienced this and perhaps noted the circumstances associated with it.

To your question, you saw-out another ash of similar blonding but in a different location to see if the color pattern is consistent.

Thanks for the response Pete. Here's what it looks like:

These are sequentially sawn bookmatches for guitar side sets. You can see how the heartwood seems to 'bleed' unevenly into the sapwood in a 'cloudy' way. I don't mind including the heartwood proper when it is evenly dark and has distinct edges, but the unattractive unevenness of the coloration makes these boards unuseable for my purposes. I have never seen this in other blonde hardwoods with dark hearts that I have sawn like maple, birch, or beech. I will be splitting out more of these quartersawn sets this year so I will keep an eye out to see if this 'defect' is associated with EAB blonding, or if it is just a more random or genetic-based phenomenon with ash. 

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