Can you prune oak trees in spring?
May 3, 2016
By Billy Cook, Chief Arborist,
ISA Certified Arborist,
Fort Worth Manager
The blanket recommendation from Texas A&M Forest Service is to NOT prune Oak trees in the Spring months (mid February - early June) due to the chance of Oak Wilt spread. This may not always be the best decision however.
What is the deadly Oak Wilt Disease? Details HERE.
The main concern with the risk of Oak Wilt spread during pruning in Spring is making fresh wounds through the cuts on the tree. The Nitidulid beetle can transfer spores from an infected Red Oak over to other Oaks through the fresh open wounds. Fresh wounds are ones that are less than 48 hours old.
There are many factors to take into account when deciding whether or not to prune an Oak tree in the Spring:
- We take into account direct Oak Wilt disease pressure in the surrounding area. Disease pressure in a given area is an issue that Arborists are aware of.
- Status or risk of failure of the tree or individual branches. If the Oak canopy is in need of pruning to reduce the risk of tree failure, or failure of branches, then time of year is thrown out the window. This pruning is often better to get done ASAP. Having a tree fail, or branches fail, is much worse than the chance of disease spread through controlled pruning. If branches fail from excess weight during a storm, numerous and large wounds can be left within the tree leaving it very vulnerable to Oak Wilt disease spread.
Two main elements that are important in spring oak tree pruning are sterilization and cleaning of pruning tools, and applying wound dressing to fresh cuts.
Have your Certified Arborist review your trees, and help make the best educated recommendation on the optimum time to perform Oak tree pruning. Many of our arborists on staff are also Oak Wilt Certified by the state of Texas. We understand how to diagnose and treat Oak Wilt disease and can offer the best practices for keeping it contained.