Thursday, August 11, 2011

Oak Wilt's A Bummer

 I walked around this tree for quite a while hoping to see physical damage from a lightning strike, but finally gave up and cut a twig to find what I figured was there.

The discoloration in the new wood is a sign that the tree is infected with oak wilt, a deadly fungus that always kills oaks in the red oak group.  There were no other sick trees nearby, so this tree was infected by natidulid beetles that carried the spores to it.  I recommended to the homeowner that he take it down immediately, and maybe prevent the infection from spreading through root grafts to other oaks in his yard.  I had a saw with me, and dropped it for him, then checked the sapwood in the stump and butt log.

The disease had already reached the stump, as evidenced by the discoloration in the new sapwood.  The homeowner brought a load of firewood and a barrel, so he could burn the stump into the ground.  Even though he acted quickly, hope is the hingepin of his plan to keep it from killing the rest of the oaks in his yard.

Check these links to read more about oak wilt, and be on the lookout for symptoms in your trees every year.
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The Freeholder said...

We have it here in North Carolina too. I have no oaks in my yard, so I'm keeping myself in firewood as all the neighbors oaks die. It's a same; some of these trees of over 100 years old--big, beautiful things.

Oh well, I have fully mature pines, I guess my turn will come soon when the beetles start to show up.

David aka True Blue Sam said...

At least with southern pine beetle you have a chance to beat it by taking out the trees that are attacked before they produce a new load of beetles. Be sure to protect your trees from fomes annosus if you do any thinning in your pines:

The Freeholder said...

Now that's a new one--I've never seen it. Luckily I'm a good bit west of the high hazard areas identified on the map, but borax is cheap and I'll start using it.

As far as the beetles, they seem inevitable. I grew up in a house surrounded by pines, by the time I was in my mid-20s they were about all gone. We'd have to cut 2-3 a year.

My house is surrounded by fully mature (80 YO, 90' tall) yellow pines, plus their volunteers that I'm trying to weed out a few at a time as I need softwood. Most of them have some evidence of some sort of boring worm infestation, but not bad enough to be worrisome. I had an arborist friend come out and look over the place, then cut out everything that was a danger to the house when we moved in a few years ago. He said to just keep an eye open and cut anything that suddenly started turning brown. 5 years later and I haven't had to do that--yet.

Right now I'm nurturing some small oaks, hickories, tulip trees (we call 'em poplars around here), maples and dogwoods so that when the inevitable happens, I'll still have trees.

David aka True Blue Sam said...

Good Tactics!