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Tips for Fighting Oak Wilt

"Matt has also provided us with a very helpful FAQ overview about Oak Wilt, including susceptible species, affected areas, and how to recognize if your tree has Oak Wilt."

  Oak Wilt is a fungus that clogs the water-conducting tissues of infected trees, causing them to wilt (hence it’s named) and die. The disease primarily affects Red Oak and White Oak species, which are listed in the Oak Wilt Frequently Asked Questions.

This serious disease has killed more than one million trees in central Texas. Unfortunately, Midland County is one of only six west Texas counties with confirmed cases of Oak Wilt, according to the Texas A&M Forest Service.

 Oak Wilt in Live Oaks can be recognized by the leaf veins turning yellow or brown while the rest of the leaf remains green (see photo below). Leaf drop follows and trees die in two to four months. In Red Oaks, leaves will wilt or suddenly turn brown and hang on the tree. Infected trees generally die in two weeks.

 The disease spreads by sap-feeding beetles attracted to fresh wounds (pruning cuts, broken limbs, weedeater cuts, etc.) and through neighboring diseased root systems.

You can protect your oak trees by:

·         Avoiding tree injuries, such as string trimmer (weedeater) cuts and lawnmower hits.

·         Pruning only during the coldest time of the year. During these times, the activity of the disease-carrying beetle is at its lowest level.

·         Painting all pruning cuts with a pruning paint sealer as soon as the cut is made.

·         Sterilize or sanitize all pruning equipment between trees.

·         Covering oak firewood with clear plastic sheeting and sealing the loose edges.

·         Infected trees can be treated if identified in time – when 30% or less of the tree is showing symptoms. Healthy trees within 150 feet of diseased trees can be treated with preventative measures.

·         Before treating, make sure the tree problem is properly identified. Don’t assume a problem is Oak Wilt. Click the photo for information about treating Oak Wilt.