Scott Eckert: Timely rain needed for trees

Scott Eckert
Scott Eckert

Timely rain and stress can be an issue at times for some trees.

You might be seeing dead leaves on oak trees currently. This disease causes twig dieback on pin and other oaks caused by a fungal disease called Botryosphaeria canker. Affected trees show a wilting or "flagging" of the terminal growth on the ends of branches. Dieback usually extends 4 to 6 inches down the twig with leaves bending back toward the twig before turning brown. Dead leaves remain attached to the tree. If you look closely at the twig you should see a rather marked transition from healthy to diseased tissue. Take a knife and scrape away some of the outer bark tissue. Healthy tissue is light green, whereas diseased tissue tends toward brown to black.

Botryosphaeria canker differs from oak wilt in that only the tips of branches are affected. Oak wilt affects whole branches.

Recommendations for control? This disease causes such minor damage that chemical control measures are unwarranted. Dead twigs on small trees may be pruned off if desired.

— Scott Eckert is a Kansas State Research and Extension agent for Harvey County. Horticulture is his specialty. He can be reached at 316-284-6930.