Saturday, January 28, 2012

Our Wimpy Winter is the PERFECT Time to Trim Your Oaks!

Are you totally loving the lack of snow this very wimpy Minnesota winter has brought us so far? We have been blessed this winter with a lack of snow (or cursed if you are into snowmobiling and/or cross country skiing). Our roughly 15 inches of snow has meant that roofs are not sporting 3 foot icicles and there is parking on both sides of city streets. People aren’t breaking their backs shoveling or wallets paying for a new snow blower if the old one stops running. Yes, this wimpy winter is a blessing in many regards.

A less though of perk of the lack of snow cover means that it will be easier to trim your oak trees this winter. Oak wilt is devastating to trees in Anoka and Chisago counties as massive oaks are destroyed when this disease spreads. Smart landscaping and maintenance requires you trim oaks in the winter months—before April in Minnesota. Now is the perfect time to avoid exposure to this tree-killing disease and without the normal ice and snow of a Minnesota winter it will be much easier to maneuver ladders and equipment to reach trees on acreage properties.

Oak Wilt Devastates Acreage A few years ago I shared photos of a property in a Ham Lake community where the owners had dealt with oak wilt on their acreage property for several years. Or, more accurately, they chose not to deal with it.  In one summer alone, this property lost nearly a dozen trees. (Read Oak Wilt—A Minnesota Tragedy) While the beautiful thicket of mature oak trees is now a memory, new  property owners took the initiative to save the remaining oaks. I am happy to report that with treatment and proper care, they have lost only one small tree in the past five years.

Oak wilt is not just a problem in Ham Lake and Anoka County. It is prevalent in communities from Columbus to Lino Lakes and Forest Lake to Scandia. Whether you live in Anoka, Chisago or Washington County, if you have oaks on your property, you need to take precautions to protect them from this deadly tree-killing disease.

What is Oak Wilt?

Oak wilt is a disease caused by a fungus which attacks the central system of the tree from the roots to leaves.  When the tree attempts to block the fungus, it also blocks all water and nutrients to the branches and leaves. The leaves then wilt, brown and eventually, the tree dies.

Oak wilt spreads through the root systems of near by infected trees and by fungus beetles that carry the oak wilt spores from tree to tree. For additional information on oak wilt from the University of MN Extention Service CLICK HERE.

How to Protect Your Trees

Keep oaks trimmed and healthy. Trim large mature oaks now as January/February are excellent months to prune oak trees.  If you have your large oaks trimmed now it is a preventative to spring storm damage when heavy, dead branches can fall during tornados or straight line winds.

The fungus beetles infect trees that have been recently injured or trimmed. These beetles are very active in the spring and summer months but not active at all during the winter. Oaks should be protected from damage and not trimmed from April through July.

Tree trimming of mature oaks is best left to professionals especially near the power lines. The trimmer should use a bucket truck or a line/pulley system, NOT spiked climbing boots which can damage the tree.

Selling a Home with Oak Wilt?

Be honest and disclose!  A seller might be tempted to cut down a diseased tree and not say a word to a new buyer. This is not only unethical it could cause expensive legal problems after the sale. Even if a seller doesn’t say anything about oak wilt infected trees that were removed prior to listing the home, most neighbors will. Cutting a tree diseased tree does not prevent the spread of oak wilt. It is likely other trees are infected. If more trees die and the buyers were not properly informed, the seller could be in a legal battle with an irate buyer. Bottom line: There is a question regarding diseased trees on the Minnesota Sellers’ Disclosure Form. Fill it out honestly and be prepared to remove the diseased trees properly and safely, if asked. It is never a good idea to not tell the whole truth on the property disclosure form. 

If you are buying, selling or relocating to Minnesota and need help from a professional REALTOR®, give me, Teri Eckholm of RE/MAX Specialists, a call or visit my website for a FREE Relocation Packet or Homebuyers Success Packet. I specialize in acreage and lakeshore properties in the north and east Twin Cities metro area including Ham Lake, Lino Lakes and all communities in the Forest Lake School District! Serving Anoka, Chisago, Ramsey and Washington Counties in Minnesota.

Copyright 2012