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Dead and Dying Oak Trees (IL)

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From: Chris Hopfinger
Freeburg, IL
Greetings Mr. Hayek,

I have definitely noticed an increase in single tree mortality within mature oak-hickory forests within St. Clair County IL. Seemingly healthy individual oak trees rapidly dying, leaves brown during summer and do no leaf out the following year. Particularly alarming are the Red oak species dying. I suspect Oak Wilt, however, I have not taken a tissue sample for determination. These trees are not adjacent to agricultural lands.

Can you provide information as to where a sample could be sent of and tested for potential oak wilt or other tree pathogens?

Can you provide any insight on the amount (percentage/density) of dead or dying trees that would trigger a need for active management? What is a good range of dead/dying trees within a typical central hardwoods stand?

Merry Christmas!


Extension Message
From: Jay Hayek
Extension Specialist, Forestry
Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences
Hi Chris:

Based on your location, the best place to send plant/tissue samples is the U of I Plant Clinic.

Most reports of Oak Wilt I hear of are in northern and NW IL near the Wisconsin border. I'll stumble upon "small" Oak Wilt pockets (0.1 - 0.2 acres) on occasion in central and east-central Illinois, but they've never warranted immediate action such as sanitation cutting or trenching.

Illinois is also witnessing an up-tick in white oak and bur oak mortality, which may or may not be related to the Rapid White Mortality issues they are witnessing in Missouri. I've personally walked through several properties in Piatt and Champaign counties that had significant white oak and bur oak mortality (2+ acre patches).

Here's the title to a good publication that discusses Oak Wilt management options, "Oak Harvesting Guidelines to Reduce the Risk of Introduction and Spread of Oak Wilt."

Feel free to call me directly too!

Merry Christmas to you and yours!

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