Oak wilt – it is a phrase that is enough to send many homeowners and tree care professionals into hysterics. Why? It has absolutely decimated so many different trees and rendered entire neighborhoods helpless to its wrath.
One thing to note is that oak wilt does not only hit oak trees, though they are the most common victims of the disease. It is something that you absolutely need to pay attention to as you take care of your trees.
When it does hit, there is nothing you can do other than be proactive with your treatment. Increasingly, communities have been banding together to obtain grants and share the costs of the oak wilt treatment.
What is Oak Wilt?
- Can decimate trees
- Spreads very quickly
Simply put, oak wilt is a traditional fungal disease that has killed thousands of oak trees every year in the United States and beyond, according to the USDA.
Even worse? It is a disease that spreads very easily from tree to tree, yard to yard, and community to community. When it starts, it can be very difficult to end. Oak wilt spreads in two different ways:
- Through the root grafts between similar species of oak trees (and some other trees as well), radiating outward from a central infected tree;
- Carried via feet, wings, and bodies by oak sap beetles carrying fungal spores from tree to tree – since they fly and move large distances, it is possible to spread the disease far and wide in this way.
When looking at risk factors for oak wilt, there are three distinct categories, according to My Minnesota Woods:
- High-Risk months in Minnesota are typically April, May, and June.
- Low-Risk months are March, July, August, September, and October.
- Safe months are November, December, January, February, and March.
One of the most important questions is: Is Oak Wilt Curable? The answer isn’t simple: For oaks that are in the red oak group, no. For oaks that are in the white oak group, yes.
How to Obtain Grants for Oak Wilt Treatment
- May need to work with your community
- Priority given to certain communities
- There may be a waiting list
There are grants available for oak wilt treatment. According to the USDA, “The mission of Federal prevention and suppression cost-share grants is to protect the resource where insect pests and pathogens are threatening important ecosystem components. In the case of oak wilt disease, this is accomplished by controlling individual infection centers in areas where the oak resource is threatened. Oak wilt infection centers often develop in areas where oaks have been injured during the spring by windstorms or human activities such as pruning, thinning, or construction damage. Movement of infected firewood or logs can be an important means by which the oak wilt fungus is introduced into new areas.”
There are forms that need to be completed and it is quite a bit of work – however, that work is worth it when entire communities aren’t stripped of their oak trees. This isn’t something that you can just allow to sit around. These grants vary in number and value – sometimes it will depend on the number of trees infected, the number of homes participating, how large the area is, how important the area is, or any other number of factors determined by the locality. This is why it is so important to work with a professional who can help you to get the best chance of obtaining a grant for oak wilt.
Priority is given to those communities where oak wilt is the worst, and those areas where there are specific environmental things to protect, such as endangered species, community gathering areas, and where ecological and economic harm would be the worst.
Cost Sharing for Oak Wilt Treatment
- Goes to those who use professionals for help
- Reimburses homeowners after the fact
- Must use an approved professional
Cost sharing for oak wilt treatment is a program started by the government to help homeowners treat oak wilt so that it doesn’t spread to other homes or areas. With an oak wilt treatment program, there is a limit to the amount you can receive on an annual basis. However, as this is something that homeowners need to confront on a regular basis, it is best to keep on top of it.
Depending on your locality, there is a chance that other routine tree maintenance can be a part of the cost sharing options. This includes planting trees that are resistance to oak wilt, using best practices to keep your trees happy and healthy, having professional maintenance, and getting treatment for any diseases or infestations that do come along, according to a collection of professionals on tree care.
Cost sharing usually takes a percentage of total tree care costs and reimburses the homeowners for that, up to a certain amount per year.
If you would like to know more about oak wilt, how to identify it, and the potential treatment options available to you and your community, there are several good resources available that we can help you to navigate. We can also help you to identify if what your trees have is oak wilt, or if it is something else.
We can help you take care of your trees – everything from regular maintenance to see if your tree is experiencing any problems or with the oak wilt treatment of your trees. If you are having any tree care problems at all, you can give us a call and we will work with you to keep your trees and yard healthy.
Give us a call today at (269) 216-6811 and we can set up a time to visit you and your trees.
Header photo courtesy of Jennifer Flynn on Flickr!