Having trees on your property should be a point of pride. They add beauty and improve our lives. They can reduce heating and cooling cost, they increase landscape value and property values. Not to mention the reduction in pollution. As you look outside, do you know if any of these trees are oaks? If so, would you not want them to have a long a prosperous life? Then this article is a must read to help protect them from a potential problem that could be sweeping across Ontario in the coming years, oak wilt.
Oak wilt is an ultra aggressive fungus which develops in the outer sapwood of the oak species. The fungus restricts water and nutrient flow and can cause dieback and possibly death. The disease can hit quick, even in healthy trees. Symptoms can be noticeable in early spring and throughout the summer. They can include wilting and bronzing of foliage.
It can start at the top of the tree and on the tips of branches. No one wants to look out one day and notice a healthy tree in decline and this can (depending on species) spread rapidly throughout the crown. You may also notice gum beginning to develop on the outer side of the bark. This gum is a main way for vectors (insects, squirrels, chipmunks and birds) to transport the disease by carrying the spores from tree to tree. The disease can also be transferred from the root system from one tree to another, but this is clearly hard to tell with the naked eye.
Since healthy trees are susceptible to infection in spring, pruning should be avoided during this time. Wounds and storm breaks during the spring and summer months should be handled with the utmost care to decrease the chance of infection. There are currently no controls on the market to ‘cure’ this disease. The best practices are to avoid making any cuts or wounds on the trees during the growing season. All pruning should be done in the winter months to limit the chances of infection. An infected tree that is showing rapid decline should be removed to limit the spread. The key to prevention is early recognition, especially if you have multiple oaks on the property or even throughout your neighbourhood. If you think your tree is infected or is potentially showing signs of infection you should contact a professional at UTS Tree Care right away.
As this disease approaches the GTA we need to be proactive as a community to limit the spread and protect this genus. If you would like a consultation, feel free to give us a call or send us an email request.