Oak trees are a stunning addition to any home. However, they are prone to a severe infection known as oak wilt disease. This post will tell you all you need to know about oak wilt, from what it is, its symptoms, and how opting for oak wilt management in Texas can help.

What Is Oak Wilt Disease?

Oak wilt is a highly infectious fungal disease that attacks your oak tree’s water-conducting system. The condition prevents the proper flow of nutrients and water, eventually killing the tree.

Though all oak trees are susceptible, the red oak group is the most sensitive, often dying soon after getting infected. Other species like white oaks develop symptoms much slower and can recover. However, while white oaks are more resistant, they can still succumb to oak wilt disease if the infection lasts for an extended period without treatment.

How It Spreads

oak wilt diseaseThere are two ways oak wilt disease spreads. The first way is when insects transport the fungal spores to healthy trees. Though we haven’t identified all the insects that transport the fungus, sap-feeding beetles are a significant contributor.

The oak wilt fungus survives the winter as fungus mats underneath the bark of dead trees. These mats grow, eventually splitting the bark and emitting an odor that sometimes resembles apple cider. Beetles then feed on the mats and collect spores that they spread to other trees during egg-laying or feeding.

While the beetles cannot transport the fungus very far, it can spread to long distances within the firewood humans transport.

The other way the disease could spread is through root grafts or interconnected root systems. In this case, the infection could spread from one infected tree to other nearby trees.

Signs and Symptoms of Oak Wilt Disease

The disease often occurs in summer or late spring. While the symptoms do vary depending on the oak species, signs of infected trees usually include:

  • Leaves turning brown or dull green
  • Leaves wilting or curling around the midrib
  • Leaf drop
  • Dark streaking under the bark
  • Dead crowns
  • Suckering at the base
  • Pressure pads and spore mats on the trunk

 Since red oaks are highly susceptible, the infection will spread quickly. In most cases, you will notice severe deterioration after a few weeks. It will take much longer before you notice these symptoms in other species.

For instance, white oaks might take a year to display any signs of infection because the disease spreads slowly. Also, the symptoms tend to remain localized on specific branches.

Managing Oak Wilt Disease

oak wilt diseaseUnfortunately, there is no cure for oak wilt. The only solution is to prevent your trees from getting infected.

The good news is that there are several preventative treatments to which you can turn. For instance, you can apply fungicide injections seasonally. Another preventive measure is stopping the transportation of infected firewood and logs.

If you do find an infected tree on your property, you should remove it immediately. Since this is a delicate procedure that requires specialized machinery to break the root grafts, always turn to a professional tree service company in your area.

The process also has to be carried out after the infected tree is dead because removing an infected tree while it is still alive will increase the chances of fungal spore release. For more information about the prevention of oak wilt disease, you can refer to our blog here.

Professional Oak Wilt Disease Management

Oak wilt is a severe disease that can cause significant problems for your property’s oak trees. However, we are committed to providing you with the services you need to protect your trees. Call Rockoff Tree Solutions at 830-955-0304 and let us help you prevent oak wilt in Texas Hill Country.