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Thursday
Jan192017

Protect Your Oak and Other Shade Trees from Deadly Diseases: Prune in Winter!

Oak Wilt has come to Long Island and our precious shade trees may be in danger. DEC Forest Health Technicians confirmed Oak Wilt to be in Brooklyn, Babylon, Islip, Riverhead, and Southold. What is Oak Wilt and why do we need to worry? Oak Wilt is a fungus that acts as a plug inside the tree, preventing water and nutrients from getting to the crown (top) of the tree. An infected tree will start to die from the top down and you will notice browning leaves and branch die back. Leaves can abruptly wilt, or the tree may experience sudden leaf loss during spring and summer. Splits in the bark may also occur.

Winter pruning by Goldberg & Rodler keeps trees healthyGoldberg & Rodler wants to help you save your majestic old trees. One of the ways to avoid the fungus getting inside the tree is winter pruning. The DEC says do not wait until summer to prune your trees. During the growing season, recently pruned or broken limbs attract beetles and other insects that carry the fungus. Pruning a tree in winter offers one defense against infection, as beetles (and other insects and fungi) are inactive. There are other benefits to winter pruning. You can easily see a deciduous tree’s branching pattern and structure without leaves. Broken and/or injured limbs are more noticeable. Removing weak and damaged branches can also help reduce limbs breaking off due to snow and ice loads. Pruning in the winter lessens the risk to adjacent plants, especially perennials, as many are dormant. Once spring comes, these trees benefit from winter pruning with a strong and robust burst of new growth. For best results, prune between October and February, when deciduous trees are dormant.

Symptoms of Oak Wilt: (A) White Oak (B) Red Oak [Photo: New York State Department of Environmental Conservation]Oak Wilt fungus can also spread through roots systems, especially with Red Oaks, because their root systems have a tendency to fuse together when growing in a group. If you have many Oaks on your property, it is best to call Goldberg & Rodler and have our trained and certified arborists assess your trees. Infected trees can die quickly, anywhere from 3 weeks to 6 months after infection, but the time to act is now.

Interested in keeping your trees healthy? Suspect they may have Oak Wilt? Contact us now and save a place on our winter pruning schedule. Call our main office at (631) 271-6460 or our dedicated plant healthcare hotline at (631) 271-TREE (8733).

Visit the DEC’s website to learn more about Oak Wilt and the areas of quarantine. If you have an infected tree removed, follow proper disposal guidelines to prevent the fungus from spreading. It is prohibited to move oak and any firewood out of the infected areas.