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DNR advises earlier caution against oak wilt disease


Avoid unnecessary tree pruning, cutting 

Due to the unseasonably warmer temperatures this spring, the window for the transmission of oak wilt from diseased to healthy red oak trees has already started, the Department of Natural Resources announced today.

According to Dr. Robert Heyd, Forest Pest Management program manager for the DNR’s Forest Resources Division, oak wilt is a serious disease of oak trees – mainly red oaks, including northern red oak, black oak and pin oak – in Michigan and seven other neighboring Midwestern states. Red oaks will die within a few weeks after becoming infected, though white oaks are more resistant and the disease progresses more slowly. This year the disease risk for trees is especially high and ahead of schedule.

“The normal time-tested advice is to prevent oak wilt by not pruning or otherwise ‘injuring’ oaks from April 15 to July 15,” said Dr. Heyd. He said the spread of oak wilt occurs during this time of year as beetles move spores from fungal fruiting structures on last year’s oak wilt-killed trees to wounds on healthy oaks. Because of the warmer weather, the beetles that move oak wilt – and the oak wilt inoculum – are present in many areas.

 “Anyone who has lost trees to oak wilt knows not to cut trees from mid-April to mid-June,” Dr. Heyd explained. “But, with the warmer weather and the higher risk, the time frame has moved up much earlier. Prevention efforts – not cutting and pruning – really need to start now.”

Dr. Heyd said although oak wilt hasn’t been detected in every Michigan county, the need for vigilance is present statewide. “With the transport of firewood and other tree-related activities, you have to assume the risk is present, whether you live in metro Detroit or Menominee.”

Oak wilt has already been detected in the following counties: Alcona, Allegan, Alpena, Antrim, Barry, Benzie, Berrien, Calhoun, Cass, Cheboygan, Clinton, Crawford, Dickinson, Genesee, Gladwin, Grand Traverse, Iron, Kalamazoo, Kalkaska, Kent, Lenawee, Livingston, Macomb, Manistee, Menominee, Midland, Missaukee, Monroe, Montcalm, Montmorency, Muskegon, Newaygo, Oakland, Ogemaw, Oscoda, Ottawa, Roscommon, Saginaw, Shiawassee, St. Joseph, Van Buren, Washtenaw, Wayne and Wexford.

Springtime is a popular time for people to move firewood to vacation properties and other locations. During this April-to-June period, Dr. Heyd said it’s vital not to move wood from oak wilt-killed trees. These trees are often cut into firewood and moved, sometimes many miles from their original locations. Any wounding of oaks in this new area can result in new oak wilt infections as beetles move spores from the diseased firewood to fresh wounds on otherwise healthy trees.

The DNR recommends that anyone who suspects they have oak wilt-tainted firewood should cover it with a plastic tarp all the way to the ground, leaving no openings. This keeps the beetles away and generates heat inside the tarp, helping to destroy the fungus. Once the bark loosens on the firewood, the disease can no longer be spread.

New oak wilt sites have been traced to spring and early summer wounding from tree-climbing spikes, rights-of-way pruning, nailing signs on trees, and accidental tree-barking. If an oak is wounded during this critical time, the DNR advises residents to cover the wound immediately with either a tree-wound paint or a latex paint to help keep the beetles away.

Once an oak is infected, the fungus moves to neighboring red oaks through root grafts. Oaks within approximately 100 feet of each other – depending on the size of the trees – have connected or grafted root systems. Left untreated, oak wilt will continue to move from tree to tree, progressively killing more red oak over an increasingly larger area. These untreated pockets also serve as a source of inoculum for the overland spread of the disease.

Get more information on the background, symptoms and prevention of oak wilt at  http://michigansaf.org/forestinfo/Health/E2764-OakWilt.pdf.

Posted in Featured, OutdoorsComments Off

Pruning a shrub rose


Kathy Bond-Borie, Guest Columnist

(Family Features)
Many a gardener has stood before a favorite rose shrub with pruners in hand, hesitant to make the first cut. Thorns aside, it can be downright intimidating to cozy up to a shrub rose to try to direct its future growth and flowering.
Fortunately these plants don’t need a lot of pruning and are very forgiving. Their fast growth will soon cover any pruning cuts, and their informal shape doesn’t necessitate taming. With some basic tools and guidelines, you can tidy up the plant and encourage abundant flowering.

Photo courtesy of Fotolia

The main reasons to prune a rose are to remove dead and damaged canes, increase blooming, and decrease disease and pest problems. The best time to prune is early spring just before new growth begins, but remove spent flowers and dead canes whenever they occur. The goal is to keep the center of the shrub free of twiggy, weak growth that’s especially susceptible to attack by insects and disease.
Collect your equipment. Pruning thorny rose shrubs requires sturdy, thorn-proof gloves and safety glasses to protect your eyes. Look for elbow-length gloves at garden centers. You also need a pair of sharp hand pruners for canes up to 1/2 inch in diameter. Use long-handled loppers or a small pruning saw to cut larger stems and to reach into the center of dense shrubs.
Inspect your rose plant. First, identify all dead and damaged canes. Next, locate long thin canes and canes that grow from below the graft union, if the plant is grafted. Lastly, look for canes that rub against or crowd each other, especially if they’re growing through the center of the bush.
Determine where to cut. Prune canes back to buds that face the outside of the shrub. Cut the spindly canes back by half their length or to 2 to 3 feet long. Cut or break off canes completely that grow from below the graft union. Remove diseased canes, and those that rub or crowd, back to healthy, outward-facing buds. If you see brown tissue in the center of a cane when you cut it, prune a little farther back until the tissue is clear and healthy.
In cold-climate areas, wait to prune until the buds just begin to swell in spring. Then it’s easy to tell the difference between healthy canes and buds and those that didn’t make it through the winter.
Make the right pruning cut. Make your cut about 1/4 inch above a healthy bud and at a 45 degree angle. The bud and the high point of the cut should be on the same side of the cane so that water will drain away from the bud. To prevent the spread of disease, clean your pruning tools between shrubs with a mix of one part bleach and nine parts water.
Fertilize after pruning. To encourage flowering, use a rose fertilizer as recommended on the label.
Remove spent flowers. To encourage repeat flowering, use hand pruners or scissors to remove flowers as soon as they finish blooming. Cut each flower stem back to the next lower set of leaves. (No longer is it recommended to cut back to a 5-leaflet leaf because this removes too much foliage and can slow reblooming.)
For more tips and garden information visit www.garden.org
A former floral designer and interior plantscaper, Kathy Bond-Borie has spent 20 years as a garden writer/editor, including her current role as Horticultural Editor for the National Gardening Association. She loves designing with plants, and spends more time playing in the garden – planting and trying new combinations – than sitting and appreciating it.
Courtesy of Family Features

Posted in Diggin' Spring, FeaturedComments Off


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