Help on Oak

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The leaves on my neighbor's oak tree - Spanish Oak, I believe - are all turning brown. We are in a drought, but she has a sprinkler system. THe mulch was piled high around the base and I told her to pull that back to the root flare. They've been in the house about 12 year, so the tree is not new.

Any ideas on what the problem is?


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Not sure what kind the mulch is made of, but it's the standard kind you see down here -dark brown, almost black.
if its a high manure content it could be burned. im just guessing, trying to imagine the whole tree like that
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I see. I believe it's shredded wood. Doesn't smell like manure at least.
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I'll see if my wife can take a pic for me.

Determining the type of mulch is important as it could be allelopathic (

I'm not sure in your area, but in California many oaks are very sensitive to having water during the summer months as they have evolved in areas with very little moisture during the summer. Watering oaks in California in the summer will often lead to some type of root issue, such as Armillaria. Not sure about this oak and your area??

Call your extension agent and ask if he/she has noticed anything going on with this type of oak in the area.

Looks like Quercus texana that's hosting our old friend fagacearum. Spanish oak with oak wilt.
It's Oak wilt for sure. Due to fungus spread by bark beetles. I would recommend Mauget injection.
The WiltingOak says its oak wilt. I agree. :thumbup:

Welcome back, Reed. :beerchug:
It's way too late to inject...the tree will not uptake what's considered an effective dose, even if you try my patented dissicant. Besides, the compound Mauget or Rainbow or any State agency would recommend (I never refer to it's trade names) is only a fungistat, a sterol inhibitor that only reduces the sexual reproduction of the disease, not spread.

Secondly, that particular tree, texana, has such a thin distinct vascular area that it's already totally inhibited and the only moisture that's still responsible for the remaining green leaves is what's left in the tissues - it's already dead in other words. So sorry. However, there's a chance that this late in the season it might could be rescued depending on the severity of the canopy symptoms - I've rarely but sometimes see remission but it's a quirk.

They are native oaks but not long lived - even nursery specimens. Fast growing but shallow roots, susceptable to many different root and canopy infectious pathogens. They like hard rock limey lives but the main thing to consider is that the thin bark allows the fruiting of this fungi to occur, it forms and releases spores that attract many type of insect vectors who in turn seek carbo sources on wounds and seeps in healthy oaks...the live ones. That's why recommendations are to remove and destroy this host. It's the season, especially with this recent and tomorrow's rainfall that wilt will prosper in this tree and create the mycelia that will allow continuity and spread of the disease.

Catch 22. By trying to save this tree, might endanger the neighboring oaks. By removing this tree she's lost a tree. As the French say, whatever that is.

Other than that I don't know.
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  • #18
Thanks Reed. Not good news, but it's better knowing.

Now - what to do? The tree isn't that big, so no huge loss if it is cut down. So, given that it's not worth the expense to try and save (and probably wouldn't be successful anyway), what is the best way to get rid of the tree? Can it be cut down now or should it wait until winter to prevent further spread? After it's cut, can a tree be replanted in the same location or is the ground poisoned forever? If we cut it ourself (remember, it's a small tree), can it be dumped on my land, or is it still a carrier even after it's cut?

Anything I missed?

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Scorch hasn't been confirmed or even suspected in red oaks in Texas.

Cut 'er down now and destroy the wood. The remaining moisture in the wood will continue to feed the disease to fruiting stage, even after the tree's cut. This isn't a problem with live oaks but her tree...

She can plant where there's room to excavate (remaining roots) but it wouldn't be a good idea to put a susceptable host tree there. Cherry, walnut, sycamore, cedar elm (my recommended replacement) will be okay and even benefit from the rotting root system.

Mycelia is the end-result growth the disease tries to attain and the thin bark of her spanish oak will allow one or more of these 'pads' to swell and break thru the bark and grow fuzzy spores that will let the disease succeed further. Burning is banned now, but seldom do I ever suggest the controls the state recommends except in this case - I would transport if it's necessary and cut to pieces enough so you can isolate the corpse completely under clear plastic and let a week of sunshine cook it hot enough to destroy the remaining culprit. Firewood from it isn't worth it later, crappy wood indeed when killed by vascular-blocking fungi. Burns cold and stinks anyway. No threat from transmission in any form if she can elevate the temps beyond 95-100 under the plastic. Then just let it rot or burn it when we get rain again, later.

Knowing the virulence and character of wilt intimately, keep an eye on the rest of her's and neighbor's property. The landscape layout will dictate what kind of future to expect but there are options if need be, provided outbreaks are noted early in their process.

One main rule - keep her off the internet and away from State-sanctioned or industry websites dealing with the syndrome.

Oh, and the tools used for removal...

spray 'em down to dripping with WD-40.
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It's way too late to inject...the tree will not uptake what's considered an effective dose, even if you try my patented dissicant.

Really interesting & informative posts, Reed. So good to see you again ! Well, 'see' as in a manner of speaking, LOL !!!
Do tell about your desiccant ? Surely it's not an injected application ?
You've got my curiosity with this one ?!?
Great stuff here, Reed. I love to see this information made available. I have read many of your posts on different forums and always find this a fascinating subject.

So if this tree is cut down and the stump is not ground and the root system is left intact, how much of a threat of the disease spreading remains and for how long?

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  • #24
Knowing the virulence and character of wilt intimately, keep an eye on the rest of her's and neighbor's property. The landscape layout will dictate what kind of future to expect but there are options if need be, provided outbreaks are noted early in their process.

Thanks again - seriously.

My house is the closest one to the tree, so I will watch my trees carefully. Luckily, the diseased tree is isolated by a street in the front, and a driveway on both sides, so the possibility of root grafting seems to be minimized. Beetles are a different problem.......
Dave, in the urban setting such as this red oak, I'm not too certain there exists engrafted roots - James mentioned it's a loner tree I think...

Reds can not graft to white or black oak groups anyway - it has to be a common species.

Reds also reproduce by seed, not vegetatively from root suckering - so if the stem is removed the roots die soon after taking whatever other locations of the parasitic disease with it. There are exceptions however, but I'm not worried about it here. This red just represents an infection foci that most likely came overland above ground and it will spread from there but from mechanical transmission. If he notices the cross sections removed lower on the trunk, it's less stained by invasion and tree tylosis to the disease - roots probably are not infected anyway.

I know that the fungal matts (sexually horny mycelia) aren't present - yet, but will be when more necrotic leaves present and the total loss of green. Time is important to destroy this host, but still vectors of all type bring disease from miles away, so...

Early indications of neighborhood disease outbreaks should be everyone's concern - the problems fall when there are more than many of contradictory management recommendations like we have here. It's also a big money thing, so that influences outcomes as well.

James, might be a good time to haphazardly begin spreading ferrous sulfate heptahydroxide on the drip;lines of your live oaks. It will increase some minor microelements that help live oaks manage infection better. Think Zinc and copper in very small dose rates, iron sulfate to acidify the rootzone pH a little.

Forget about ALAMO (opps, I said it).