Monday, November 7, 2016
FOREST PEST ALERT
Oak Wilt (Ceratocystis fagecearum) Why we care: Oak wilt kills healthy red oaks. White oaks can also be affected but are more resistant and less vulnerable to mortality from the disease. One a red oak becomes infected with the oak wilt fungus, the tree will die and there is no treatment to save the infected tree. Once an oak wilt infection is confirmed, however, treatments are available to save surrounding oaks and stop the speak of disease. What is at risk? All red oaks are susceptible to oak wilt. Red oaks are common urban and suburban landscape trees. The loss of these trees can have significant negative impact. In the forest, red oaks are also an important producer of acorns for wildlife habitat. Using 2011 Forest Inventory and Analysis data along with the current average stump age price for red oak saw logs, it is estimated that the value of red oak timber in Michigan is approximately 1.6 billion dollars. The Threat: Oak wilt moves slowly on its own through root systems and travels short distances overland when new spores are moved by beetles from an infected tree to a freshly pruned or injured tree. Oak wilt can be moved long distances when people move infected firewood from one location to another. Look for red oaks that suddenly drop their leaves in the summer. The disease spreads, killing nearby oaks from on year to the next. Currently, oak wilt is generally distributed throughout the Midwest and Texas. What could happen to Michigan?: One established, if not treated, oak wilt will continue to spread, killing all red oaks in a neighborhood or a forest.