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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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Monday - February 09, 2009

From: Belton, MO
Region: Midwest
Topic: Trees
Title: Pruning an oak tree in Missouri in February
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Can I prune an oak tree in Missouri in February?

ANSWER:

We would not recommend doing so. Members of the Nitidulidae family of beetles, which spread the fungus causing Oak Wilt, are already active in February. This devastating disease in oak trees, for which there is no cure, is described in this USDA Forest Service website Forest Insect and Disease Leaflet 29, Oak Wilt.  Note that on the map of the United States showing degree of severity of infestations Missouri appears to have a high percentage of infection. Any wound, pruning or otherwise, is an invitation to the beetle to attack the tree. The best time to prune an oak is during a cold snap in December or January. We suggest you contact the University of Missouri Extension Office for Cass County for more specific advisories on care of oak trees in your area.
 

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