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Winter is the Time to Tackle Buckthorn and Oak Wilt

Cutting buckthornIt is the middle of January and winter has flexed its muscles. Many people would assume that a company named “Prairie Restorations” would be sitting back enjoying some quiet time before spring arrives and with it a flurry of activity, but they would be wrong. We have crews out across the state working on projects. Our typical winter field work consists of buckthorn removal along with other woody invasives, but this year we have a variety of other projects happening. In the west metro we are busy clearing trees as a part of a new project that will ultimately lead to a large prairie restoration project. Here at the Two Oaks office we are in the midst of an oak wilt eradication project for one of our customers. Oak wilt is a disease caused by the fungus Ceratocystis fagacearum that ultimately kills most infected oak trees. Trees can die very quickly, from a few weeks or months to up to a year or two. Red and Pin oaks are the most susceptible and tend to die quicker, whereas white and bur oaks are not as susceptible and can live up to a year or two with the fungus. The fungus is carried by insects and spread from infected trees to new trees into open wounds on the new trees that were caused by tree trimming, storm damage, etc. Trees are most susceptible in April, May, and June, although infection can occur any time during the growing season. This is why recommendations have been given to trim or remove oak trees and deal with oak wilt infestations in the winter. This is exactly what our PRI crew is doing. We are cutting down the infected trees and burning them up to eliminate the fungus. In addition, we have used a trencher to eliminate root grafts between trees which is the secondary way that the fungus spreads. Hopefully with our work we will have eliminated oak wilt for our customer and saved many acres of beautiful oak woodlands in the process.

More information can be found at the following websites:
U of M Extension – Oak Wilt in Minnesota
MN DNR – Oak Wilt

Jeff West
Site Manager
Two Oaks in Scandia, MN