Month: January 2018

Oak Wilt: What is it & What Does It Do To Your Trees?

Many people have heard of oak wilt, yet they don’t really know what it is. Understanding that oak wilt is a negative thing for trees to contract isn’t difficult, but it helps if you have a firm grasp on this condition, the signs that it’s taking hold of your tree, and know how to manage it.


Oak Wilt Explained

As you can probably guess from the name, oak wilt is a condition that affects oak trees. It’s most severe for red oak species, although it can affect white oak species, but usually not as profoundly.

Insects are the most common way, Oak Wilt spreads throughout the tree.

The condition is a fungal infection of a tree. If left unchecked, it can ultimately lead to the death of a tree, which can be quite expensive to replace. Not only that, your trees provide valuable shade, beautification for your yard, and even add to the value of your property.

You should be watching for any of the following symptoms, which can indicate your tree has contracted oak wilt:

  • Discolored leaves on one or more branches
  • Wilting leaves
  • Heavy defoliation (leaves falling off the branches)
  • Darkened sap
  • One or more dead/dying branches
  • Fungal mats developing under the bark

That final symptom usually only manifests once the infection is pretty far along.


How it Spreads

Insects, especially sap beetles, are the main way oak wilt spreads from tree to tree. Fungal spores attach to the beetles, so when they land on other trees and burrow into the bark, the fungus can infect a new host. For that reason, you can help prevent the spread of oak wilt by treating areas where you’ve pruned the tree, or the bark has been damaged by accidents, weather, etc. Also, avoid, pruning your trees when the weather is warm, particularly in the late spring and early summer. Oak Wilt can move quickly throughout the tree.

Even if your oak is free of insects, because you’ve been managing any damage properly, it can still contract oak wilt. Root grafts, or when roots from neighboring trees attach to each other under the ground, can also be a source of the infection. The fungus will travel into the roots of a host, and from there can be introduced to other trees through the graft.


Curing Oak Wilt

This condition can move quickly, so you must act swiftly to avoid the death of your tree. Red oak can die within several months after becoming infected, making vigilance key.

You can spray for insects, taking away the most common means of the fungus spreading. Breaking any root grafts will help as well. Soil fumigation can help with breaking tree root connections if you’re unsuccessful with mechanical attempts.

Once a tree is infected, you might be able to prune out the affected area and stop the spread of the fungus. If the tree is a total loss, you must be careful about when and how you remove it, or you might spread the fungus spores.

The best way to prevent oak wilt and manage any trees showing symptoms is by getting professional help.

Contact PPM Tree Service & Arbor Care, LLC to make an appointment.

Dutch Elm Disease is Still Attacking Michigan Trees

You might have heard about the problem of Dutch elm disease in Michigan. Some people mistakenly believe that the problem has been eliminated. Sadly, that’s not the case. While the number of American elms that have been lost to this disease throughout the United States is staggering, any tree is still at risk of falling victim.
By gaining knowledge about this condition, you can better manage your trees’ health, hopefully avoiding the loss of any. Dutch elm disease can cut off the nutrients to the trees branches.

What is Dutch Elm Disease?

Essentially, Dutch elm disease is a condition that can kill portions of an elm or even the entire tree. Scientists have tracked it to Asia, and believe it was accidentally spread to Europe and North America. Since its introduction to this area, Dutch elm disease has absolutely devastated the elm population in cities, suburbs, and even nature areas.
Originally, the disease was identified by two Dutch phytopathologists in 1921, which is how the name came about. It is a fungus that, when introduced, will spread through a tree. The natural response of a tree to stop the spread of the fungus actually cuts off water and nutrients to the branches, which is what kills it.
Signs which can indicate a tree has Dutch elm disease included:

  • Leaves on a certain branch yellowing or withering before the fall season
  • Dark discoloration on the branches and stems

How it Spreads

While Dutch elm disease mostly affects American elms, it can hurt other elm species to one extent or another. Often, one branch shows signs of infection and will die. Within a year to seven years, the rest of the tree will also die off.
One of the most common modes of this fungus spreading is through bark beetles. These insects carry the fungus, and as they burrow into the bark, it can infect the tree. Dying, dead, or stressed elm wood is an attractant to bark beetles.

Bark beetles is the most common way that dutch elm disease can spread through the tree.

Another way Dutch elm disease spread is through root grafts. As the same tree species or those that are closely related spread out their roots in the ground, they come in contact with each other. Over time, those roots from different trees can graft or fuse together. As the fungus reaches the roots of one tree, it can move through the graft to the roots of another elm.

Curing the Disease

Obviously, the ideal thing is to keep your trees in good repair, so they don’t become infected with Dutch elm disease. You can spray for bark beetles, as well as identify and break root grafts.
But even with precise caution, you might notice one or more of your trees displaying symptoms of this condition. Your best bet at saving a tree is to interrupt the Dutch elm disease cycle. This can be done by injecting fungicides into the tree and pruning out the infection in the early stages.
Dutch elm disease is a serious condition.

Get professional help by contacting PPM Tree Service & Arbor Care, LLC here. We have the experience and training necessary to properly manage the situation.

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