Tall, beautiful and majestic, oak trees make for a charming yard and landscape. Unfortunately, they have one major downfall – a disease known as oak wilt. This fungal infection can take a vigorous oak tree and cause it to deteriorate and die within just a year or two. So, if you have oak trees on your property, it pays to know a little about oak wilt and what you can do about it.
What are the signs of oak wilt?
The first sign of oak wilt is typically the rapid death of a few of the tree's branches. Usually, the branches near the top of tree's crown die first. Their leaves shrivel, turn bronze, and fall to the ground in the middle of the summer. As time wears on, more branches will die in the same manner. If you have a red oak, this death will usually progress until the tree is dead without the course of a single summer. White oaks take longer to die – so the branches may die a few at a time over several years. Red oak trees may also develop mats of fungal spores on their trunks. These are black in color with a fuzzy texture. White oaks rarely develop these mats.
What should you do if your oak tree shows signs of oak wilt?
It's important to know that nothing you do will save the tree. Oak wilt is always fatal. However, you can take actions that will keep the infection from attacking other trees in the area. Have the tree taken down by a tree care expert who can ensure the wood is disposed of in a way that won't contaminate other trees. Usually, this entails burning or burying the wood. Sweep up any leaves that have fallen from the tree, and burn them. Do not use them as compost or let them sit on your property. Oak wilt fungus is spread by beetles, so when you let the leaves sit there, beetles can pick up the fungus and carry it to nearby trees.
How can you protect your mighty oaks?
If your oak tree is still strong and healthy, there are ways to help ensure it stays that way:
- Never bring firewood onto your property. It may be harboring some beetles that carry the oak wilt fungus.
- Have your tree sprayed with insecticides if you notice any beetles on or near it.
- Clean up leaves and twigs as soon as they fall, as these can attract the beetles that carry the oak wilt fungus.
Oak wilt can be devastating, but with a few preventative measures, you can greatly reduce the chances of your tree becoming infected.
For more information, contact Troyer Tree Service Inc or a similar company.