Did you know that pruning your live oaks and red oaks in springtime may be deadly for your trees? Any untreated wounds to the oak trees leaves them susceptible to oak wilt, a contagious and destructive disease carried by omnipresent fungal spores. As these spores are most prevalent during the spring, the City of Austin and Save Austin Oaks strongly encourage residents to avoid pruning activities between February 1 and June 30.
Over 10,000 of our beloved oaks have been lost to oak wilt in recent years – but increased education and awareness can help us manage the problem. Read below to learn more about ways you can prevent the spread of oak wilt when working around your oak trees.
What is Oak Wilt?
Oak wilt is an infectious and deadly tree disease afflicting live oaks and red oaks in Central Texas. The disease is caused by the spread of spores from the fungus Ceratocystis fagacearum to the untreated open wounds of healthy trees. Once an oak is locally exposed, the disease spreads through root and nutrient transport systems to threaten the entire tree. Most oak trees are susceptible to oak wilt, but infection risk can be reduced by following key tree health tips (see below).
Some Tips When Pruning Oaks (excerpted from texasoakwilt.org)
- Do Not prune or wound oaks during the spring (February 1 – June 30 annually), if possible*
- Do apply wound dressing or latex paint to any fresh tree wounds after pruning or tree removal
- Do clean all pruning tools with bleach or Lysol in between trees
- Do separate firewood from diseased trees from live, healthy oaks
- Do chip, burn and bury any debris from diseased oaks
* Consult pruning guidelines if work is required in the spring – for public safety reasons, construction or where existing damage needs to be repaired
Oak Wilt Supression webpage – from the City of Austin Planning and Development Review Department