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A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Friday - July 13, 2007

From: Dripping Springs, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Diseases and Disorders
Title: Advisability of trimming oak trees in August
Answered by: Damon Waitt

QUESTION:

In general,what is your opinion on pruning oak trees in August? If it is positive, should the extreme moisture of this year affect the timing?

ANSWER:

New oak wilt centers are started when a contaminated beetle finds a fresh wound on a healthy oak tree. In general, the heat of summer and the cold of winter are the best time to prune to prevent an oak wilt infection because beetle populations are lowest.

That said, insect populations, in general, increase during mild spring like weather and mild spring like weather is when oak wilt fungal mats are most likely to form. So, the most likely time a contaminated beetle will find your tree is when the weather is mild. Given the mild and moist summer we have been having in central Texas, Mr. Smarty Plants would advise not to risk infection by wounding your oaks in August.

If you choose to prune in August, the Texas Forest Service recommends that you always paint pruning cuts as soon as the cuts are made. When pruning cuts are made during the proper times of the year there still maybe a few contaminated nitudulid beetles in the area. If the pruning cuts are painted with a pruning paint or latex paint this will prevent these sapfeeding Nitidulid beetles from feeding and infecting your oak tree with the oak wilt fungus.

To learn more about oak wilt identification, management, and prevention, visit www.texasoakwilt.org.

 

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