Wilted leaves on a 4 year olf White Oak

Asked June 22, 2018, 11:16 AM EDT

So, we have a 4 year old white oak in our front yard. We planted it when it was 2-3' and it has grown to over 8' tall or so. Now we noticed the leaves at the top coming in and then wilting and turning brown or black . It started to do this last year. I sprayed for bugs and some flew off but the leaves are really not coming in. The rest of the tree leafed out fine. what do you think is going on.


3 Responses

This sounds like a possible root or trunk issue. This does not sound like a disease or insect issue. Some possibilities include girdling roots, planting too deeply, poor drainage, excessive mulch, soil compaction, etc. Take a look at our publication for these types of problems http://extension.umd.edu/sites/extension.umd.edu/files/_docs/programs/hgic/HGIC_Pubs/TreesandShrubs/...

You will have to do some detective and/or excavation work. Look around the base of the tree. Make sure it is not planted too deeply. You should see the flare at the base of the trunk where it joins the root system. If this is not visible, then be suspicious of deep planting or girdling roots. If so, you may have to perform a root collar excavation. See above publication.
Make sure mulch is no thicker than several inches and keep away from the base of the trunk. Check for any lower trunk damage.
Make sure the soil drains well. You can perform a field test. Make a hole 18 inches deep and fill with water. The water level should drop 3 inches every half hour.
Check for changes in water flow in the area.
Also, take alook at our website for information on the planting process of trees and shrubs and common problems


See the attached photos. the truck is in good condition only the upper portion of the white oak is showing sign\s of stress

That die out at the top is concerning. Is that the area you sprayed? What did you use and what were the weather conditions that day? (Some pesticides can burn foliage under certain conditions).
Get in close and follow that dying branch down into where it connects to the rest of the tree. Anything odd there?
The dieback could indicate a root issue of some sort.
From afar we can't accurately diagnose what is going on.
Be sure to read through the links above and act to lessen stress on the tree, especially by offering supplemental water if we were to enter into a drought.

If the tree is important to you, you could also consider hiring a tree health expert, known as a certified arborist to make an on-site evaluation and offer recommendations. Certified Arborists are credentialed by the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA). You can search for one at www.treesaregood.org