Guard against aiding spread of oak wilt

Does the warming weather have you thinking about doing some early yard work, such as cutting back on trees and branches?

If an oak is involved, might be best to reconsider.

Oak wilt is a significant threat to oaks in the region, experts with the Dickinson/Menominee Conservation Districts warn.

The oak wilt fungus is carried by sap-feeding beetles from infected wood or trees to a fresh cut or gouge in a healthy tree. The highest risk of infection is from April 15 until July 15, but the experts advise against pruning or injuring trees from April until leaves fall in November, just to be on the safe side.

If an oak is accidently cut or a limb breaks, protect against infection by spraying the wound with a tree-wound spray or latex-based paint, the experts advise.

Any infected tree converted to firewood should be burned on site, to prevent spreading the disease. Burning will kill off the fungus and any beetles living in the wood.

Symptoms of oak wilt appear from June to September and include leaves suddenly wilting and dropping, starting at the top of the tree first, followed by rapid tree death. Oak wilt also can spread through the roots, infecting an area much greater than expected.

It is important to take proactive measures to head off the spread of the disease, according to the Dickinson/Menominee Conservation Districts. Quick identification of oak wilt is key.

Those who suspect oak wilt may be on their property, want to learn more about it or have any other questions can contact forester Lawrence Sobson of the Dickinson/Menominee Conservation Districts at 906-774-1550, ext. 100, or by email at Local Conservation Districts can assist in prevention planning, disease identification and education about oak wilt.