So i had all the oaks on the property treated for oak wilt back in july in order to halt the spread when i learned the cluster of seven trees i use as a carport during storms was infected. Three of those trees are recovering fairly well with new baby leaves all over their branches. One tree looks pretty dead. The remaining 3 trees, i know for sure are dead, because they split clear in half vertically up the trunk and you can look inside and see that these trees are dry as a bone and ready to be fire wood, no aging or patience required. It is a bit alarming. If i had to guess i’d say oak wilt is the closest thing to trees experiencing their own version of the first strain of covid-19. I remember watching my patients drown in lungs full of mucus created from their own lung tissue melted into goo. No amount of oxygen or cpr would revive their systems that were now void of the mechanisms required to pass O2 to red blood cells. I can beg God. I can beg the trees. I can sprinkle probiotics all over the soil and soak their roots with molasses laden vitamin water but no amount of measures are going to be life giving for these trees. They are dead and the mechanism that allowed them to function is broken, thoroughly. You cannot glue trees back together vertically up the trunk. It’s pretty final. They need to be cut down. However, im unwilling to touch the spore laden trees with my hand saw blade. It would mean i couldnt use it on anything but the trees infected with oak wilt. I’ve decided that at some point in the spring i need to buy a chain saw and fell the dead trees. The chain saw will be just for oak wilt and i will continue to use my manual hand saw for all other cutting of wood on the homestead. Just to get the infected wood off the property, i think i would saw it into manageable pieces and put it in trash bags to be collected each tuesday for the landfill. Im uninterested in the process of covering it with plastic for a year in order to kill the oak wilt enough to use it as firewood. I don’t have a fireplace. I have no need for it and view it as tainted with the tree plague. If given the opportunity i would just get it out of here as quickly as possible. But, a chainsaw is not in the budget right now and i am tired at the moment, so for the time being the split ghost trees will stay where they stand.
Would soaking the blades in a *strong* bleach solution decontaminate the blades?
I am not sure but having seen the destruction of oak wilt and lived with the stories of it my whole life there’d be no way i’d risk it. Insects can carry it from one tree to others after flying for miles and miles. It can be spread through root systems, insect activity or spores carried by the wind. It leaves open fungal wounds on the bark and within a few months healthy trees can become bare and leafless. The wood becomes so dry the tree literally splits and then you just have a trunk of contaminated fire wood. It is thoroughly dead very quickly. Unfortunately insects and wind can still carry the oak wilt from its dead host to many other trees long after the death has occurred. There’s supposed to be no known treatment for oak wilt but i found a guy who claims they have a formula with an 80 percent success rate. About half of the afflicted trees lived and came back thriving so i’d say his formula works. He should patent the ingredients and process. However, its $4,000 to treat the trees and only some live. I would never risk it. Oak wilt might as well be considered the black plague here. You discover black plague…leave the shoes, back out of the house, run, and never look back. Sigh. Im sad to have lost some of those trees but it could be worse. Im glad the 200 and 250 year oaks are still healthy right now. Im nervously watching my beloved pin oak. Im pretty sure its infected and is dropping some leaves but they treated it which is all they can do. They told me its not infected…we’ll see. They said they can come back and do one more treatment if it gets worse.
Hopefully it works long term.
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