By Clay Bales, Forester with Texas A&M Forest Service
For the next few months, this is a good time to prune your trees. It is great to get all your pruning done now so that when Spring comes around, you don’t have to wound your trees unless absolutely necessary. This is a great first step to avoid getting a new oak wilt center.
There is some confusion about whether Fall is a good time to prune oak trees because of oak wilt. While we don’t know everything, I want to give you a little bit of information to help you in making this decision. New oak wilt centers are created when a Red Oak which recently died of oak wilt creates a fungal mat with specific fungal spores. These fungal mats are created in late winter or spring just under the bark and attract beetles. Then, the heat of the summer kills these fungal mat spores. Beetles can be active year-round. Activity peaks in the Spring and then again to a much lesser extent in the Fall. However, we believe that the beetles flying in the Fall are not likely carrying live fungal mat spores which could start a new center.
From a pure oak wilt perspective, the hottest day in August would be a safe day to prune oak trees. However, this might also be a poor time of the year to prune trees from a tree health perspective. The trees are most stressed (in a typical year) in August when the rainfall is lowest and the heat is the highest.
The decision of when to prune your trees in a given year should be between you and your Certified Arborist. There is no perfect answer, and there may be some things we don’t know about the oak wilt disease. Whenever you prune, making proper pruning cuts is important. Below is a picture showing how to make a proper cut so as to not inadvertently damage your tree.
Here is a good website for more information regarding caring for trees. http://texasforestservice.tamu.edu/ServicesforResidentsandHomeowners/
About the Blogger
Clay Bales received his B.S. in Forestry from Oklahoma State and M.S. in Forestry from Auburn University. Beginning his career with the Texas A&M Forest Service about 20 years ago, Clay has worked as a District Forester in East Texas, Stewardship Coordinator for Texas and now works with landowners on land stewardship and forest health issues. Oak Wilt is a major disease affecting Hays county, and Clay works with cities and HOAs to developed oak wilt education and oak wilt containment programs.