DNR warns about spreading tree disease

Two U-P counties are at risk for a disease targeting a popular type of hardwood tree.

The Department of Natural Resources is concerned about the exotic disease Oak Wilt, which is notorious for killing Red Oak in south Menominee and south Dickinson counties.

The disease is transmitted a few ways, mainly through root connections and beetles that carry the fungal spores to healthy Oak trees.Just one infected tree can affect surrounding trees approximately hundred feet away.

As it gets warmer in the upcoming months, the DNR warns that cutting contaminated Red Oak for firewood will also spread the disease.

“When you do have a tree that dies, the following year it produces this fungus that cracks the bark and these beetles feed on that and if you wound a tree between April 15th and July 15th by pruning the tree, beetles will also visit that wounds that have fed on these fungal mats on these trees that died last year and inoculate the trees,” said Bob Heyd, a DNR forest health specialist. “The tree then will die quickly in the summer time and drops its leaves and it starts all over again.”

The DNR advises that people do not prune or wound Red Oak trees during this time period. If a tree must be wounded, they recommend painting the wound right away to stop the beetles and prevent new infections from occurring.

If you notice oak trees dying quickly on your property, contact the DNR so they can diagnose it immediately and save other trees.