Caused by a fungus, oak wilt is a deadly infection that affects all species of oak trees. There is no cure once a tree is infected, so it's best to focus on preventing the disease – especially if you live in the eastern US where oak wilt is common. If you have an oak tree in an area where oak wilt is prevalent, follow these three tips to protect your oak tree.
Don't bring other wood onto your property.
The fungus that causes oak wilt is spread from tree to tree by beetles. These beetles can hide out in firewood – and not just oak firewood. If you bring firewood onto your property, you risk bringing home these beetles and the fungus that they carry. If you must buy firewood for a wood burning stove or such, make sure you purchase it from a knowledgeable vendor who can guarantee that it came from an area that is oak wilt free or that it has been fumigated for pests.
Have between-tree root grafts broken.
When you have multiple oak trees in one area, their roots may become intertwined. If one tree becomes infected, it can easily spread the oak wilt fungus to another tree through these root adhesions. Breaking these root adhesions beforehand will help ensure that if one tree becomes infected with oak wilt, they don't all immediately become infected. A tree care expert can sever these roof grafts for you. The process involves digging down into the soil a certain distance away from the trunk of the tree and slicing through (and sealing off) any roots that may travel to a nearby tree.
Don't trim your trees in the spring.
The beetles that spread the oak wilt fungus happen to be most active during the spring. They are attracted to the exposed wood that occurs when you trim a tree. Thus, it is best to avoid trimming your trees during the spring so you do not attract the beetles. If your tree is in need of pruning, have your tree care service tackle the job in late fall or late winter when the beetles are still hibernating. By the time the beetles emerge and become active again, the tree will have healed its trimming "wounds."
In addition to following the tips above, also make sure you keep an eye out for the main sign of oak wilt – which is browning, falling leaves in spring or summer. Contact an arborist if you believe your tree has oak wilt, as prompt action will help prevent its spread to other trees.
For more information, contact Arborcare Tree Service or a similar company.