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DNR asks for help in protecting oak trees from oak wilt

oak wilt.jpg
Posted at 10:38 AM, Mar 30, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-30 11:38:13-04

WISCONSIN — The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is recommending people do not cut down or prune any oak trees between April and July.

April is a high-risk time for oak trees, according to the DNR, so keeping chainsaws and trimming tools away from the trees could help ensure your trees stay healthy.

"In spring and early summer, pruning and cutting oaks leaves them vulnerable to oak wilt, which rapidly kills trees in the red oak group and weakens those in the white oak group,"according to a statement from the DNR.

Any damage to trees during the months of April, June, and July can expose living tree tissue to oak wilt, which can attack and kill an entire tree. One way to prevent the oak wilt from killing trees is to paint the trees or apply a wound dressing on them, according to the DNR.

The DNR does not typically recommend using these products on trees, but in this case, they said a light application immediately after the damage could prevent oak wilt from attacking.

"If something wounds an oak during this period, immediately and thoroughly apply pruning sealer or tree paint over the wound. Torn branches or roots should be cut clean and the cut surface painted. For additional protection, cover treated roots with soil," the DNR said.

The oak wilt spreads through sap-feeding beetles which travel underground and feed on oak tree open wounds.

“Sap-feeding beetles, like most insects, have an incredible sense of smell, which draws them to open wound surfaces to feed on sugary sap in as little as 15 minutes after a tree is wounded,” said Paul Cigan, DNR Forest Health Specialist, in the statement.

DNR said oak wilt is most common in Ashland, Iron, Taylor, Door, Kewaunee, Calumet, and Manitowoc counties.

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