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Residents in the clear to prune oak trees, as risk of invasive disease is low

Dieback of oak leaves in the summer is a symptom of oak wilt.
D.W. French
University of Minnesota,
Dieback of oak leaves in the summer is a symptom of oak wilt.

Oak wilt is a fungal disease spread by beetles that causes a rapid loss of leaves followed by sudden death in oak trees.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources warns residents to hold off on trimming oak trees through the summer, when exposed sap can attract disease-carrying insects.

Now that temperatures have dropped and trees are dormant, the state is giving the go-ahead to prune oak trees.

Winter pruning can promote tree growth and is also recommended for elms, ash and apple trees, which are susceptible to other fungal infections.

Before pruning anytime of the year, always double-check to see if the species is vulnerable to diseases and can handle the stress of pruning.

The state also reminds residents not to transport firewood, which can spread invasive species and diseases.

Editor's note: In the interest of transparency, the Michigan DNR is a financial supporter of WCMU.

Teresa Homsi is an environmental reporter and Report for America Corps Member based in northern Michigan for WCMU. She covers rural environmental issues, focused on contamination, conservation, and climate change.
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