The majesty of an oak tree is simply undeniable. There’s something about having oak trees on your property that recalls ancient forests and the idyllic depiction of nature. It’s no wonder that they are incredibly popular. Even though these large trees seem incredibly hardy, oak trees require maintenance to keep them healthy.
In particular, pruning your oak trees in the winter is of primary importance to protect your trees from oak wilt and reduce the spread of the disease.
Oak Wilt: What Is This?
Before diving into the maintenance of oak trees to prevent wilting, let’s examine oak wilt itself and define what it is. Oak wilt is a type of fungal disease that can affect every kind of oak tree (there are about 600 varieties of oak trees around the world), especially in the Midwest. This disease is very deadly, and it can actually kill an oak within just a few weeks of the initial infection. It spreads quite easily as well, via underground root contact, when sap-feeding beetles carry the diseases’ fungal spores from one tree to another.
The symptoms of oak wilt include:
- Leaves becoming discolored
- Leaves wilting and curling
- Leaves dropping in the summer
- Suckering at the Oak’s base
- Dead crowns
Once trees become infected with oak wilt, there’s not much you can do. This is why prevention via pruning and maintenance is so important.
Precautions to Prevent Oak Wilt
The good news is that there are some effective methods you can use to prevent oak wilt. Here’s what you should be doing:
- Prune your trees in winter. The time of year you prune your trees is very important, particularly because you don’t want to prune your trees during the time beetles are most active. If you do, the beetles will be attracted to the fresh wounds and will be even more likely to spread the disease. So avoid pruning your trees between April 15th and October 1st.
- If for some reason you absolutely must prune your trees during the spring or summer, (for instance if your trees are damaged during a storm), make sure to cover the tree wounds with latex-based paint or a tree-wound paint.
- Make sure you disinfect pruning tools. Use a solution of water and bleach to clean your pruning tools. The last thing you want is to have pruned an infected tree without knowing and then inadvertently spread the disease.
- Don’t move firewood. If you happen to think a pile of firewood may be infected, moving it is the worst possible thing to do, as that can spread the fungal spores even more. Use a tarp to cover the firewood instead to keep any beetles away, until you can safely use the wood in the Fall and winter.
If you have a number of oak trees on your property, oak wilt is the last thing you want to have to deal with. So to prevent oak trees from wilting on your commercial property, it’s helpful to seek the services of a professional Wisconsin pruning contractor.
At Earth Development Inc., we have years of experience with expert tree care and pruning services in the Wisconsin area. Keep your commercial landscape, and oak trees, in particular, flourishing throughout the year with our help. Contact us today to find out more.