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Oak Wilt Management

Oak Wilt Management

Trees can suffer from a number of diseases, and Oak Wilt is one of the most severe, since in can kill some species in the matter of a few short months, and it is easily spread. If the Oak Wilt disease isn’t diagnosed early, the tree likely won’t survive and should be removed promptly. This disease favors all varieties of oak trees but Red Oaks (both Shumard and Spanish) and Live Oaks (both Quercus fusiformis and Quercus virginiana) are more vulnerable than trees from the White Oak family.

What is Oak Wilt disease?

Oak Wilt is a form of vascular wilt disease caused by the fungus Ceratocystis fagacearum. The disease is most commonly spread through root-to-root contact with the diseased trees. Overland spread of the disease can also occur. In this scenario, the fungal spore mats that result from Oak Wilt are favored by the sap-feeding nitidulid beetle, which helps transmit the disease from one tree to the next. It can also spread via non-sterilized tools, so it is imperative that all tools are thoroughly cleaned between disease treatments.

At the end of the day, the fungus is the culprit of this disease. When the fungus enters the tree, it stops the flow of water and nutrients within the tree’s vascular system. An infected tree can display these symptoms:

  • In Red Oaks, an oily, green appearance in the areas of the tree’s canopy occurs and eventually turns a red or tan color. In some cases, the discolored leaves will also experience rapid shedding, though this is less common.
  • In Live Oaks, the tree’s leaves display yellowing or browning in the mid-rib and side vein areas along with other symptoms. Leaves will start falling off as the discoloration sets in.

What should I do if my oak trees display these symptoms?

Oak Wilt can be tricky to diagnose and treat, but as soon as you notice any of these symptoms, you should contact a certified arborist who has been specially trained in Oak Wilt disease and its management and is Texas Oak Wilt Certified. Scapes Inc. has Texas Oak Wilt Certified arborists on staff.

If Oak Wilt has been diagnosed in your neighborhood, especially if it is within two to three blocks, oak tree owners could consider using preventive measures to preserve their trees. Currently there are no natural treatments to prevent Oak Wilt, so preventive treatments today involve using a fungicide injected into holes drilled directly into the tree. This treatment can be costly, but so is replacing a beautiful, mature tree.

Also, you should only consider hiring application technicians who have been certified by the Texas Department of Agriculture for using this treatment. Tree owners need to weigh their options (and the costs), especially if most of the trees on their site are susceptible to the disease.

Another strategy that should be part of any tree installation or tree maintenance plan is to include a variety of different species of trees for planting if you have that option. The certified arborists at Scapes Inc. can help you choose a healthy balance of varied species for new tree installations or recommend species to add to your existing site. Contact us today to learn more or to schedule a consultation at 972-407-5000.

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