Pruning Caution Urged Amid Oak Wilt Concerns

Pruning Caution Urged Amid Oak Wilt Concerns

As winter encourages many to undertake tree pruning, experts caution against unnecessary trimming, particularly for oak trees, due to concerns over oak wilt. Demian Gomez, Texas A&M Forest Service Regional Forest Health Coordinator, emphasized the stress pruning adds to trees, especially when already stressed. Gomez advises against pruning for aesthetics or growth control if a tree is showing signs of stress.

Of particular concern is oak wilt, a deadly tree disease prevalent in Texas, which can spread rapidly through wounds on oak trees. All wounds on oak trees, including those from pruning, should be promptly painted over to prevent the spread of oak wilt, which can be transmitted by sap-feeding beetles or through interconnected root systems.

Oak wilt can devastate oak populations, with red oaks being particularly susceptible, often dying within a month of infection. Live oaks also face risks, primarily through underground spread via interconnected roots. Symptoms of oak wilt, such as veinal necrosis, may be challenging to diagnose, especially during seasonal transitions.

Preventive measures against oak wilt include trenching around infected trees to sever root connections and fungicide injections for healthy adjacent trees. Planting diverse tree species, avoiding moving firewood, and community prevention plans can also help curb the disease’s spread.

Recognizing the importance of preserving oak trees for ecosystems, health, and property values, several cities in Texas have implemented oak wilt programs. Residents are encouraged to consult with local Texas A&M Forest Service representatives for further guidance on managing this destructive disease.

For more information on oak wilt identification and management, visit or Texas A&M Forest Service’s website at