Oak is one of the highest valued forests for reasons beyond the beauty it adds to Wisconsin woods. Not only does it produce high-value lumber, which goes into fine furniture and trim, but it is an essential component of wildlife habitats, including that of deer and turkey.
Unfortunately, oak regeneration is often difficult due to overgrazing by wildlife and a reluctance of landowners to create the openings in their forests required for oak seedlings to thrive.
Growth in our Oak forest declines annually due to old age and disease. Oak wilt is an aggressive disease that kills thousands of oak trees every year. Although there is no cure for the disease, it can be identified, prevented and controlled.
The disease is most prevalent and lethal in the southern and central parts of the state, where certain counties with high oak populations have been devastated.
Companies like Woodland Management Service offer professional evaluations to promote proper management by not only controlling an existing oak wilt problem, but preventing it as well.
Trees are often infected with oak wilt at a rapid rate due to the way in which it spreads through the root system. Because tree roots often touch and graft to one another, the fungus that causes oak wilt in one tree can spread through the underground network like wildfire. Early prevention is landowners’ best counter-attack.
When it comes to preventing oak wilt disease, having a diverse forest is a landowners’ best bet. Black oak, pin oak, and northern red oak species are highly susceptible to the disease. Foresters work with landowners to diversify the land. Doing so prevents the disease from spreading through the root system and reduces its impact on the rest of the property.
If prevention is no longer an option, early detection can significantly reduce the detrimental effects of oak wilt. The disease is most commonly identified in red oaks. Symptoms include rapid leaf discoloration and wilting. As the disease progresses and within a few weeks, the tree begins to lose its leaves. The way the infection is spread usually results in whole groups of oak trees dying.
Understanding the symptoms of oak wilt disease can save large portions of forestland. Once detected, the disease can be controlled in a variety of ways. Quarantine zones involve cutting down oak trees around the infected area to prevent the disease from spreading. Another option involves herbicide and root pruning. Professional foresters will diagnose the problem and suggest a solution to protect land while keeping the landowners’ best interest in mind.
By contacting a forester for a professional evaluation, private landowners in Wisconsin can prevent oak wilt disease and preserve their land for generations to come.
For more information about oak wilt disease and how it can be prevented or controlled, please call Bob Crane at 715-204-9663