Oak Wilt is a deadly fungal disease, first recognized as an important disease in Wisconsin in 1944, It has the potential to take out red oaks in just one season. Albeit also deadly for the white oak family, it’s a much slower kill and potentially treatable.
Oak Wilt is caused by a fungus which invades the tree’s vascular system (right beneath the bark) and feeds off the tree’s translocating water. In order to eliminate the fungus, the tree blocks infected areas of the vascular system, eliminating necessary water from the fungus. Unfortunately, the tree is then unable to move water and nutrients to its leaves, slowly starving and dehydrating itself in the process. (oof sounds bad!)
Oak wilt is transmitted primarily by sap-sucking insects and beetles which inadvertently act as vectors for the disease. However, overlapping root sections can also spread disease from an infected specimen through an entire stand if other susceptible trees are nearby.
Symptoms including abrupt leaf wilt during the growing season, browning of green leaves generally starting at the infection point in the canopy, this will lead to eventual leaf drop, will occur when a tree is impacted by the disease. It is difficult to diagnose the issue quickly, as the fungus grows beneath the bark and the downfall of the tree is swift. This is why having a Certified Arborist form a local tree Service out to your property to inspect your trees is incredibly important.
Don’t worry, not all hope is lost!
There are 3 factors you can control in order to reduce the likelihood of infection.
1. Oak pruning must only be done in the winter by a trusted Madison area tree service. Oak Wilt is transmitted primarily sap-sucking insects. Therefore, pruning must be done in cold temperatures to avoid transmission. Oak Wilt can also spread through root systems of nearby infected trees.
2. Oaks can be proactively treated in the late spring or early fall. This treatment will not help infected trees.
3. Severing Roots and Trenching to quarantine an infected pocket of oaks can be employed as an effective method of stopping the spread of the oak wilt fungus via root grafts. Call Eco Tree Company to have your oaks treated to avoid potential for disease.
We know this is a lot of info and it can be challenging for an untrained individual to recognize these symptoms early enough to still be able to combat this tree disease. Our primary piece of advice would be to contact a local tree service even if you just suspect something might be going on. When contacting a Local Arborist make sure to find a service that.
1. Specializes in disease diagnosis and treatment
2. Has Certified Arborists on staff and completing the evaluation and work. This will assure you and your trees get the best care possible!