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Oak Wilt and the Fungal Mat Connection

All manner of oaks including red oaks, white oaks, and live oaks, are susceptible to oak wilt. In very recent years, oak wilt has destroyed many oaks of various species in Austin, Texas. There is considerable information which explains specifics regarding the disease. Such information may define what oak wilt is, how it impacts oaks, how to prevent it, and how to manage circumstances when a tree is diagnosed with the disease so that proximal, healthy trees are unaffected. At the crux of the issue, however, is what is known as a fungal mat. The purpose of this article is to better understand the rather significant role fungal mats play in the onset and eventual diagnosis of oak wilt.

When an oak has wilted and died, it may produce a mat. On the mat are spores responsible for the fungus that produces and spreads oak wilt. Fungal mats expand in such a way underneath the bark that they cause the exposed outer bark of the affected oak to split open. The mats also produce a fermented, fruity aroma that attracts vectors, primarily small, sap-feeding beetles known as Nitidulid. The vectors feed on the sap, and as they do so, they inadvertently collect the spores. It is the accumulation of these spores by, and the unrestrained movements of, the vectors that allows the spores to be spread, exposing once healthy oaks to their likely demise.

Although oak wilt may be spread through interconnected root systems, the spread of the disease through vectors which feed on fungal mats is equally problematic. This is because the vectors constantly seek out feeding sources and unless controlled by some manner of insecticide are, again, virtually unrestrained in this process. Unfortunately, any oak that has suffered a wound produces wound sap to which, much like fungal mats, the vectors are innately attracted.

Wounds may come from a variety of sources. Environmental causes may include high winds, hail damage, or heavy snow or ice that breaks tree limbs. Man-made causes may include nicks from mowers, automobile damage to the tree, or inappropriate trimming. Consult an Austin tree trimming professional regarding appropriate trimming methods, the use of which will sustain the tree, preventing the formation of fungal mats, the subsequent unwanted infiltration of vectors, and the continued spread of oak wilt.

Once the vectors land on a wound to feed, the tree immediately becomes exposed to oak wilt. The spores germinate quickly, clogging the water- conducting vessels that are the lifeline to their continued viability. Therefore, the immediate painting of any fresh wound with a wound or latex paint is the most reliable way to prevent vectors from exposing a healthy oak to oak wilt.

There are many cyclical factors that contribute to oak wilt disease. Fungal mats and the spread of harmful spores through vectors are only a small fraction of the overall cycle. For additional questions or concerns about Austin oak wilt, oak wilt treatment, and overall evasion of this crippling disease, contact an Austin tree care professional for assistance.

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.

Austin tree service or a professional Austin arborist for information and assistance regarding the appropriate methods of disposal. '>

Official Policy for Disposing of Wood Affected by Oak Wilt

Oaks are a prominent species of tree in Austin, Texas. However, in recent years, a considerable number of oaks in Austin have been destroyed by the disease known as oak wilt. Oak wilt is caused by a fungus which causes the water-conducting vessels of the tree to become clogged. As a result, this prevents all parts of the stem beyond the blockage from receiving much needed water for continued viability. In an attempt to bring these devastating effects under control, the city of Austin has adopted an official policy regarding the appropriate disposal of wood affected by oak wilt.

Chipping or shredding the wood from trees affected by oak wilt is an acceptable means of disposal. This is permissible because the wood dries when chipped or shredded. The fungus responsible for causing oak wilt, also known as Ceratocystis fagacearum, cannot thrive once the drying process begins. Much like other types of fungi, which require moisture to thrive, once the source of the moisture is depleted, the fungi is destroyed. In spite of the demise of the tree, this is an environmentally friendly means of disposal, as the chipped or shredded wood can serve another purpose through use as mulch.

Another acceptable means of disposal of wood affected by oak wilt, although perhaps a little less environmentally friendly, is burning. Burning affected wood will kill the Ceratocystis fagacearum. Again, the heat from the fire supplies a means of drying, depriving the fungus of the moisture it requires for survival. And since the fungus is not spread through the smoke, there is no cause for concern that this manner of disposal might potentially affect healthy oaks.

As per the city’s policy, any affected wood that is not chipped, shredded or burned shall be disposed of at a landfill. An Austin tree trimming specialist who is familiar with Austin oak wilt and the various appropriate means of disposal of affected wood can likely direct you to the landfills in your area that are prepared to receive diseased oaks for disposal.

In instances where diseased oaks are identified, but are not accessible for chipping, shredding, or burning, the policy indicates that the tree shall be girdled. Girdling occurs when a ring of bark and underlying tissue are removed from around the tree, generally for purposes of destroying it. Once the diseased tree is girdled, it is then treated with an herbicide for desiccation (or drying). Desiccation, of course, facilitates the destruction of the fungus by depriving it of its life-sustaining moisture. This is an especially important procedure if the diseased tree is inaccessible, but happens to be within the vicinity of healthy trees, which could be negatively impacted if the diseased tree remains untreated. Contact an Austin tree care professional to assist you with such a procedure for affected oaks on your private property.

As per the city’s policy, one final, acceptable means of disposal of affected wood is through the use of firewood. This is yet another environmentally friendly means of recycling the wood. However, city policy indicates that the firewood shall not be stored near healthy, unaffected trees and shall be stored under a clear plastic covering with the edges tightly secured, perhaps dug into the ground, so as to prevent any spore-carrying insects from spreading the disease to surrounding healthy trees. The plastic covering also provides a solarizing effect, which speeds the drying of the wood should any moisture remain. The policy recommends the use of clear plastic so that escape holes are not easily recognized by the disease-spreading insects.

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.

The Official Policy On the Prevention of Oak Wilt in Austin

The city of Austin, Texas contains many Live Oaks and variations of Red Oaks. However, in recent years, the city’s oaks have been heavily affected by oak wilt, a fungus-oriented disease, which causes the water-conducting vessels of the tree to become clogged and prevents all parts of the stem beyond the blockage from receiving much needed water for sustainability. Without the appropriate nutrients, the demise of the tree is inevitable. Unfortunately, oak wilt is also quite contagious. In an effort to help contain the continued spread of the disease, the city of Austin has developed an official policy regarding the prevention of trees affected by oak wilt.

Prevention begins with knowledge. Therefore, each city employee or contractor who works on any project in which the potential spread of oak wilt may exist receives and is required to read and understand the city’s official policy on the disease. Such employees and contractors may include project managers and equipment operators. The responsibility to provide a written copy of the city’s policy on oak wilt extends to individual city departments as well. If the possibility for the spread of the disease exists to any degree, then city departments are required to provide workers with the written policy before work commences.

Prevention policy also indicates that employees should avoid trimming or pruning oaks as much as possible from March 1st through June 1st. Austin tree trimming should only be completed during those times in which the city has deemed it safest to do so, which typically includes when the insect population responsible for transferring the fungus from tree to tree is most dormant or when the fungal spore production is minimal.

The city of Austin has also determined that any trimming or pruning wounds to oaks shall be treated immediately to prevent the spread of oak wilt. The use of a non-phytotoxic (not toxic to plants) wound dressing shall be used on injured oaks, including injuries to stumps and roots, both above ground and underground. Contact an Austin tree removal professional with your concerns if you suspect that the stump or roots of a tree on your personal property may be affected by oak wilt.

A final prevention policy requires the disinfecting of equipment used for pruning, sawing, or other required tools. This policy also speaks to the frequency with which disinfecting should occur and includes before work commences, work performed between individual trees, and before leaving a work site after work is completed. According to the city policy, acceptable forms of disinfectant are aerosol disinfectant or 10 percent bleach-water solution. Although current research does not support that doing so will prevent the transference of the disease, disinfecting of all equipment is a policy requirement of the city of Austin.

The city of Austin has established these preventative policies so that the substantial oak population within the city, whether on public or personal property, can thrive. The need for such policies shows not only the contagiousness and the extent of the widespread effects of oak wilt, but also the city’s resolve to bring the disease under control and, with time and effort, prevent it altogether. Oaks add value to the city of Austin, and the city values the oaks in return. If you live in Austin, are a homeowner with oaks growing on your property, and desire to be proactive with regard to the health and viability of your oak trees, just as the city has, contact and seek the expertise of an Austin tree care professional, who can assist you in this endeavor.

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.

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.

Oak Wilt

Oak trees are one of the more popular and commonly planted landscaping trees. This great species is also a staple of the natural American landscape. However, oaks can easily succumb to a disease known as oak wilt. In recent years, this disease has destroyed a significant number of oaks in the Austin, Texas area. In order to prevent Austin oak wilt, it is important to understand the disease–its origin and how to treat it.

Although it is not the number one disease that kills oaks, oak wilt it is considered the most commonly known. It is caused by a fungus known as Ceratocystis fagacearum. The disease manifests itself through fungal spores that invade an oak and clog its water conducting system.

The disease is spread through two primary agents:

One is through beetles which feed on the sap of oaks. Beetles frequently carry oak wilt spores to non-infected oaks and introduce the pathogen through a fresh wound. The wounds may be caused by a number of factors, including wind damage or inappropriate trimming. However they may exist, wounds must be appropriately treated in order to decrease the chances that an oak will succumb to the effects of oak wilt.

Introduction of these spores by insects may also lead to the second agent frequently responsible for spreading the oak wilt. Once an oak is affected by fungal spores, the possibility for a continued, rapid spread of the disease to other oaks exists through an interconnected root system. Severing the root system of affected trees from other localized, unaffected trees is the only means by which to prevent the continued spread. Consult an Austin tree trimming professional to assist you with this, as he/she will possess the equipment necessary for such an undertaking.

There is no known cure for oak wilt, so prevention is key. For instance, there are specific times of year when pruning an oak is more ideal. Pruning during the extremely hot, dry summer months is beneficial, as there is a decreased spore production during this time period. Conversely, pruning during the extremely cold winter months is equally beneficial due to a reduced amount of insect activity. Additionally, should an oak have one, immediate treatment of a fresh wound may prevent spore contamination and preserve the life of the tree. This can be accomplished using pruning paint. Taking several, very achievable steps can lessen the chances that an oak becomes affected by the disease.

Oaks are a valuable landscaping commodity in Austin. Their value can be maintained through knowledge of oak wilt and some forethought of preventative care. However, if you still have questions concerning oak wilt, its appearance, effects, or treatment, contact an Austin tree care professional to assist you.

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