Because Austin oak wilt is such a devastating disease, prevention is the key. This is especially true since once a tree is exposed to the disease, there is very little that can be done to prevent its demise. Perhaps one of the easiest means of the prevention of oak wilt transmission is through the proper cleaning of pruning tools.
There are differing opinions on how best to clean pruning tools. However, some of the most common, if not controversial, disinfectants include:
Using a bleach solution of one part bleach to nine parts water. (Submerge blades or shears for at least 20 seconds.)
Diluted Lysol to 20%
Undiluted (full-strength) Listerine
Rubbing alcohol of at least 70%
For more effective cleaning, consider using a scrub brush, in addition to the disinfectant, to clean the tools’ blades.
Because of the chemical potency of these cleaners, it is especially important to protect oneself when cleaning pruning tools. Approach cleaning even the smallest of tools with care. At a minimum, the use of plastic hand gloves and safety glasses should be used. Hand gloves protect one’s hands from chemical burn or excessive drying. Safety glasses protect one’s eyes from sloshing or splashing disinfectants or their fumes. Always be mindful that even disinfectants that have been diluted may still cause damage to the unprotected human body.
Of course, the chemicals used to clean one’s pruning tools may cause blades to become corroded. Be certain to use water to wash away the disinfectant after submerging and/or scrubbing. Once thorough cleaning is accomplished, some guidance advises allowing the tools to completely air dry, then oiling them. By doing so, some believe the overall quality of the tools remains intact in spite of the chemical exposure from cleaning.
An Austin tree trimming professional can provide invaluable insight into the appropriate care of tools so that chances for the spread of oak wilt are minimized or even eliminated.
Another simple preventative action that can be taken when cleaning pruning tools to prevent the spread of oak wilt is to wear protective foot covering. In this particular case, the implied protection is not for the individual, but for trees. If the possibility exists that healthy oaks may be affected by a proximal diseased tree, then the transmission of spores to unaffected areas may be decreased if work boots are covered either before being exposed to the oak wilt center or removed before leaving it.
As always, seeking the advice and assistance of an Austin tree care service is recommended for any questions or concerns one may have regarding the appropriate pruning techniques or methods of tool cleaning. Since prevention is the only surefire “treatment” for oak wilt, never hesitate to contact a professional arborist if uncertainties exist.
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.