As we approach winter, and the Christmas season, here’s another thing to add to your list; Pruning your Oaks this Winter. There are several great reasons but the most important is to reduce the risk to your trees from contracting Oak Wilt. Let’s start with “What is Oak Wilt and why is now a good time to prune Oaks?”
Oak wilt is a disease caused by the fungal organism Bretziella fagacearum. The disease can spread both underground and above ground. The disease is spread underground to healthy oaks through the root system of infected oak trees. Additionally, sap-sucking beetles can be attracted to the fungal mats that form under the bark of infected, dead oaks and can spread the disease above ground as they move to uninfected oaks.
Oak wilt is a very serious and often deadly disease of oaks, specifically the oaks in the red or black oak group. The actual pathogen (Bretziella fagacearum) that causes the disease has been known to be in Ohio for many decades. Some years, it is worse than others. Oak wilt is not like the emerald ash borer that spreads rapidly, almost like a tidal wave moving in one direction. Oak wilt builds in a way that it can radiate out to other like trees, but advances at a slower pace, but even then, can cause tree death in a single season, and often in a matter of weeks