New York State’s Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and Department of Agriculture and Markets (DAM) recently announced that oak wilt has been detected in the Central Islip area of the town of Islip, Suffolk County on Long Island in New York. The disease was identified by the Cornell University Plant Disease Diagnostic Clinic after samples from a symptomatic oak tree were submitted by a concerned tree care professional. Oak wilt is a very serious tree disease in the eastern United States, killing thousands of oaks each year in forests, woodlots and home landscapes. It is caused by a fungus, Ceratocystis fagacearum. The fungus grows in the water conducting vessels of host trees causing the vessels to produce gummy plugs that prevent water transport. As water movement within the tree is slowed, the leaves wilt and drop off, and eventually the tree dies.
NYDEC will utilize the eradication protocols from the Schenectady County occurrence to control the Islip infestation. An emergency order has been issued establishing a protective zone that prohibits the removal of any living, dead, standing, cut or fallen oak trees or any portion thereof, including branches, logs, stumps or roots, green oak lumber and firewood (of any species) out of the immediate area unless it has been chipped to less than one inch in two dimensions. The order also creates a 150 foot “red oak free zone” around the specific location where the infected trees were discovered. All red oak located in these zones will be removed by DEC and destroyed in order to protect the remaining oak trees in the area.
Members of the public are encouraged to report any occurrences where an oak tree suddenly loses its leaves during the month of August to the Forest Health Information Line toll-free at 1-866-640-0652. For more information about oak wilt or the emergency order, visit DEC’s website. For more on the detection of Oak Wilt in Long Island, read the press release here.