You’ve been granted free access to this subscribers only article.
Use caution to decrease spread of oak wilt disease
COLLEGE STATION -- With the long-anticipated arrival of cooler weather, now is the perfect opportunity to enjoy some time by the campfire but be careful to pay close attention to the firewood you are picking. Transporting and storing diseased wood is a known means of spreading the devastating oak wilt fungus to previously uninfected neighborhoods. Utilizing these prevention steps is the key to safeguarding against spreading the disease through the selection and use of firewood:
•Select well-seasoned firewood. Well-seasoned wood is cut before the summer and is typically dry with loose bark and cracked ends. Avoid oak wood that appears unseasoned, that may have tight bark and cut ends which show no cracks or signs of aging. The extreme heat and drying of a full Texas summer effectively destroys the fungus in cut firewood.
•Safely store unknown sources of firewood. If the oak wood comes from an unknown source and it is not well-seasoned, cover the woodpile with a clear piece of plastic. Burying the edges of the plastic will prevent the entry or exit of insects that might have been attracted to diseased wood and fungal mats.
•Destroy diseased red oaks. A knowledgeable arborist or forester should diagnose red oaks (i.e., Texas red, blackjack, or shumard oak) that die rapidly (2-3 weeks) or in groups (two or more trees over several years) for oak wilt. Trees suspected to have died recently from oak wilt should be destroyed by burning, burying, or chipping. The heat of a fire destroys the fungus and the smoke emitted poses no threat to healthy trees. When planning to do any outdoor burning, be sure and check with local officials to see if an outdoor burning ban is in place for your county and take care not to burn on windy days with low humidity.
•Avoid wounding oaks during vulnerable seasons. The general recommendation is to avoid injuries to oaks from February through June. The best times for pruning of oaks are during the heat of summer (minimal spore production) or the cold of winter (minimal insect activity).
•Paint all oak wounds including pruning cuts. Throughout the year, immediately apply a thin coat of latex or pruning paint to all fresh wounds and other injuries that expose the inner bark or sapwood of oaks. This prevents contaminated sap beetles from infecting the wound with oak wilt spores.
Hunters, especially west of IH 35, should be especially careful in not transporting recently killed oak trees off of ranch land. The probability exists of moving red oaks that have died of oak wilt and having these trees produce disease spores while being stored. If in doubt, again always cover the wood with clear plastic and seal the edges with rocks or soil.
Oak firewood is an important commodity to Texans, whether it’s used for firing up the barbecue pit or for warming up on a chilly hunter’s morning. By selecting well-seasoned, disease-free firewood and by following other disease prevention guidelines, homeowners are taking the correct steps to prevent a new oak wilt disease outbreak in their neighborhood.
For more information, visit www.texasoakwilt.org.
Your Opinions and Comments
Be the first to comment on this story!
You must be logged in to post a comment.
Agriculture Today Archives
Customs intercepts pest new to the United States (May 25, 2016)
Does wounded tree have a chance? (May 25, 2016)
Livestock Market Reports (May 25, 2016)
Mother Nature whips Wilson County crops (May 25, 2016)
Scrapie confirmed in Texas (May 25, 2016)
TDA Market Recap (May 25, 2016)
Texas Hay Report (May 25, 2016)
Beef cattle seven-year decline ends (May 18, 2016)
Educational video for water well owners (May 18, 2016)
Free Beef Quality Assurance training set for May 25 (May 18, 2016)
Fretwell wins Region 8 high school all around rookie saddle (May 18, 2016)
Grant to restore, enhance the monarch butterfly habitat (May 18, 2016)
Grass-fed beef conference (May 18, 2016)
Gun safety and barbecue in New Braunfels (May 18, 2016)
La Vernia Poultry Judging wins state, advances to nationals (May 18, 2016)
Lawn, landscape, rainwater program May 21 in Floresville (May 18, 2016)
Lesser prairie chicken off the list (May 18, 2016)
Livestock Market Reports (May 18, 2016)
Luling Foundation Field Day (May 18, 2016)
Protecting your tomatoes (May 18, 2016)
TDA Market Recap (May 18, 2016)
Texas Hay Report (May 18, 2016)
As El Nińo fades, expect warmer, drier weather says Texas A&M expert (May 11, 2016)
Floresville team wins second at state (May 11, 2016)
Livestock Market Reports (May 11, 2016)
Llamas, load up! (May 11, 2016)
TDA Market Recap (May 11, 2016)
Texas Hay Report (May 11, 2016)
Transplanting mountain laurels (May 11, 2016)
2016 La Vernia Junior Livestock & Poultry Show (May 4, 2016)
Beef, forage symposium May 10 (May 4, 2016)
Cattle raisers’ crime watch (May 4, 2016)
Corn acreage increases in Texas (May 4, 2016)
Help controlling the weeds (May 4, 2016)
Krueger leads the way at La Vernia stock show (May 4, 2016)
Land Heritage nomination deadline nears (May 4, 2016)
Livestock Market Reports (May 4, 2016)
TDA Market Recap (May 4, 2016)
Texas Hay Report (May 4, 2016)
May 2016 Gardening Calendar (May 1, 2016)