Oak trees will soon be at risk for disease

Lawn enthusiasts and amateur arborists who want the best for their oak trees should soon place a temporary pause on pruning them, according to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

These mighty hardwoods have a weakness during the spring months, a susceptibility to the fungal disease oak wilt, which can prove deadly to the trees in a matter of weeks.

To prevent the spread of this fungus, the DNR urges homeowners not to prune any oak trees from April 15 to July 15.

The infection is transmitted through sap–feeding beetles, which become contaminated with viable oak wilt spores and carry them to fresh wounds on other vulnerable oaks.

Oak wilt can also be spread by transporting infected firewood. It also spreads from tree to tree through connected root systems.

“After a tree is infected, there is no cure for oak wilt, so it is important to prevent infection in the first place,” said Simeon Wright, forest health resource analyst with the DNR’s Forest Resources Division.

If an oak tree is damaged during the high–risk period from April 15 to July 15, landowners can immediately cover all wounds with tree–wound paint or latex–based paint to help slow the spread of the disease.