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Oak Wilt Disease Threatens Texas Oaks in Spring

by TAMUFS staff

From February through June, oak trees should not be pruned or wounded to prevent the spread of oak wilt disease. Texas A&M Forest Service reminds Texans that it is especially critical to avoid pruning oaks in Texas counties affected by oak wilt.

When springtime comes, oak trees produce new leaves for the coming growing season. While the seasonal transition may leave oaks looking thin with yellowed leaves, new green leaves will soon emerge.

At this time of year, red oaks that have died of the disease during the previous summer and fall may produce spore mats under the bark that sap-feeding beetles may visit as a food source. These beetles may then fly to a fresh wound on any oak tree, infect the tree and start a new oak wilt infection center that can pass to adjacent oaks through root grafting.

All oaks are susceptible to oak wilt disease. Spring is the time of high fungal mat production, high insect populations and the highest susceptibility to disease for oaks.

Any new wound may be susceptible to infection including those produced by pruning, construction activities, livestock, land or “cedar” clearing, lawnmowers, string trimmers and storms.

To decrease the attractiveness of fresh wounds to these insects, always cover or paint wounds on oaks, no matter the time of the year. Any kind of paint will accomplish this task.

Remember, it is extremely important to avoid wounding and pruning oaks from February through June.

Millions of trees have been killed by this disease in over 76 counties of Central, North and West Texas. In order to keep new infection centers from starting, Texans must avoid wounding oaks in the spring and paint any fresh wound that occurs at any time of the year.

For more information or for answers to oak wilt questions, please visit www.texasoakwilt.org or the Texas A&M Forest Service website at https://tfsweb.tamu.edu/.

Some cities and municipalities, including Austin, the City of Lakeway, Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston and Round Rock, have oak wilt programs in place with municipal foresters dedicated to managing the disease, which can be accessed on the Texas Oak Wilt website.

For a PDF guide to Oak Wilt Disease from Texas A&M Forest Service, visit http://bit.ly/2GPG7sm

Protect your oak trees by following critical preventative measures. Please contact Texas A&M Forest Service with any questions you may have about this devastating disease.

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