Treating Oak Wilt

Oak trees are a valuable addition to any landscape in Austin. However, in the recent past, many of these majestic trees have succumbed to a disease known as oak wilt. This disease is responsible for the destruction of oaks by the thousands. Although there is no known cure for the disease, there are methods for treating it, which may prolong the life of the tree. Let’s examine some of the methods for oak wilt treatment.

One of the primary ways in which oak wilt is spread is through the root system. An infected tree can easily pass the disease along to a healthy tree through an interconnected root system. This may be prevented if a buffer is put into place. A buffer severs the interconnected root system, thereby protecting a healthy oak from an infected one. Recommendations for creating a barrier include establishing a trench at least 100 feet from the nearest oak wilt-infected tree. Using the appropriate machinery, the trench should be dug at least four feet deep and then backfilled.

Another primary way in which oak wilt is spread is through sap-feeding beetles. Because these insects are more active during specific times of the year in specific locations, pruning or mowing injuries, such as cuts or wounds, may make the perfect feeding place for the beetles and, consequently, the perfect place for infestation of the fungus that causes oak wilt. Consult an Austin tree trimming specialist with questions concerning the appropriate times to prune an oak.

Since oak wilt is caused by a fungus, treatment typically includes the use of a fungicide. The fungicide is applied to the trunk using one of two methods: macro-injection or micro-injection. The essential differences between these two methods are the amount of water used in conjunction with the fungicide and the size of the holes drilled into the tree for treatment. Macro-injection requires more water and more wounding to the oak, and micro-injection requires less water and less wounding to the oak. However, both treatments typically use the same amount of fungicide. An Austin tree care professional can address any questions you may have about which method of treatment is better for your oaks.

You may prevent oak wilt by immediately covering any cuts or wounds. This can be accomplished using a wound paint and is especially important during those times of the year when insect activity is increased. By applying wound paint, a barrier both covers the injury, as well as establishes a protective layer between the wound and the fungal spores beetles may carry. This protective barrier may prevent transmission of the disease through the open wound.

Finally, another protective measure that may be taken to prevent the spread of oak wilt is to carefully examine firewood. If the origin of the firewood or its condition is in question, research suggests that it is best to cover the wood with clear plastic and secure it by digging it into the ground, thereby preventing the spread of insects if there is an infestation. To provide better protection for localized healthy oaks, use the firewood the year it is harvested. The fire will destroy any remaining spores or insects. Additionally, for oaks that die during spring or the early part of summer, dieoff should be complete, and the firewood, therefore, able to be used, by fall.

Although oak wilt has become increasingly prevalent in Austin, there are actions which can be taken to treat it or perhaps prevent it altogether. Seek the expertise of an Austin tree service to assist you in effective prevention and treatment.

About the Author: Andrew Johnson is the owner of Central Texas Tree Care, a leading provider of Austin tree service in Central Texas. Certified ISA Austin arborist services including: tree trimming, tree removal, tree care and oak wilt treatment. For more information on Austin tree service, please visit https://www.centraltexastreecare.com.

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