Oak Wilt – Protect Your Trees Today!
Oak Wilt is a devastating vascular wilt disease that commonly affects all oaks, but most commonly species in the red oak family. It spreads rapidly through the tree’s vascular system and can kill susceptible trees in a matter of weeks. Once it’s been confirmed in the area, it is most often transmitted through underground root grafts between neighboring trees and beetles. Oak wilt has been identified in over 20 states. Once an oak tree is infected with the oak wilt fungus, the tree will die and there is no treatment to save the tree. When an oak wilt infection is confirmed treatment can be applied to the surrounding trees to prevent the spread of this disease.
Signs of Oak Wilt
The first sign of oak wilt is leaf die back and defoliation. If you suspect oak wilt, get a branch sample and look for staining. Visible signs are bark cracking that means there can be black or gray fungal mats forming underneath. Oak wilt will need to be confirmed to make sure it is another disease affecting the tree. When in doubt contact your local extension agency. Laboratory tests and fungal culturing on agar media can be used to confirm the pathogen’s presence. For red oak’s symptoms are shown in the spring and can continue into the summer. Symptoms will start from the outer leaf and move toward the stem. The leaves will start to turn a dull green or bronze and then turn to yellow or brown. As the disease progresses, limbs will die off. The tree will eventually die sometimes within a matter of months.
Prevention is the key to success. To prevent oak wilt do not prune trees during the warm season which can vary by state. If you must make a cut and there is a spore, make sure to using a pruning seal to prevent the spread. If you have oaks on your property hire a qualified arborist to help monitor and manage your tree to prevent the disease, this may also include separation of root graft. Contact your local extension agent to find out when removal is your best option.
We recommend treatment by trunk injection of Propizol. Propiconazole is a systemic fungicide that will suppress Bretiziella fagacearum. Because Oak Wilt is spread through root grafts and insect carriers, we recommend the treatment of non-infected oaks near the infected trees to slow the spread of the disease. Trees within 30 feet of a positive infection are at a great risk of root graft infection. Generally, the best seasons for injection are the fall and spring. For trunk injections soil temperature should be above 40° F. If treating a tree in the summer, inject in the morning for a quick uptake.
Trunk injection of propiconazole will suppress the fungus (Bretiziella fagacearum). Residues will persist in the tree for approximately one to two years. Trees should be re-evaluated for retreatment every 12-24 months.
Connect with your Arborjet Regional Technical Manager today to discuss the best method for you. For more information on Oak Wilt and a host of other pests and diseases, browse our website and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.