It always seemed to start the biggest arguments between my parents, Dad and his pruning.  Now comes the Department of Environmental Conservation suggesting pruning during winter.  Why?

While we usually think about the DEC more in terms of hunting and fishing, they are about the environment.  Their suggestion of pruning in winter is an attempt to stop the spread of Oak Wilt in New York.

One way oak wilt spreads is when fungal spores hitch rides on insects. Sap beetles, one of the main culprits, are extremely attracted to fresh tree wounds.

Benefits of Winter Pruning:

  • Diseases are rarely spread during this time, since insects and fungi are inactive.
  • A tree's branch pattern and damaged limbs are easier to see without leaves.
  • Leafless cut branches are lighter and easier to carry.
  • Nearby plants are less likely to be damaged by falling branches and trampling.
  • Removing weak and damaged branches before heavy snowfall reduces breakage.
  • Trees pruned in winter respond more vigorously in the spring, putting out new growth.

Oak Wilt was found in 6 NY locations this past year; in the Towns of Islip, Riverhead, and Southold in Suffolk County; in the borough of Brooklyn, Kings County; in the Town of Glenville, in Schenectady County; and the Town of Canandaigua, in Ontario County. Here's what to look for in leaves, A is a white oak, B is a red oak.

Oak Leaves With Wilt Disease

Here are more details on Oak Wilt and how to identify it at the DEC website.  If you think your trees the DEC asks that you share the information email the DEC Forest Health office or call 1-866-640-0652.


More From Big Frog 104