How to protect Texas trees from destructive oak wilt
Time is winding down for Texans to prune their trees, according to Texas A&M Forest Service's guidelines to prevent oak wilt.
Threat level: Oak wilt is a highly destructive disease that kills trees at "epidemic proportions" throughout the state, especially in Central Texas where live oaks are commonly found.
- Infected trees die without treatment and can decrease property values and be costly to manage.
Zoom out: Oak wilt is prevalent in Central Texas, but the disease has been confirmed in at least 76 counties throughout the state.
What's happening: Erin Davis, a Texas A&M staff forester, tells Axios that February is the cutoff for pruning because the springtime is a hotbed for sap-seeding beetles that can carry oak wilt spores from a fungal mat to fresh cuts in trees, spreading the infection.
- The disease is more dangerous in the Hill Country because the roots of native live oaks are interconnected, making it easy for oak wilt to spread.
Be smart: In addition to adhering to the no-pruning time zone, Davis reminds people to paint over fresh cuts to deter beetles and to be mindful of the sources and storage of firewood.
- Davis says a "pattern of mortality" is used when trying to identify oak wilt in a group of live oaks, which looks at defoliation or the death of trees in the area.
- Another symptom is brown and yellow leaf veins or veinal necrosis.
- Foresters spread out throughout Texas can be contacted to help identify oak wilt.
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