Red Oak tree dying

Asked July 31, 2019, 4:11 PM EDT

We live in Calvert County and have quite a few oak trees (both white and red) growing in our 4.5 acre lot. During the past 2-3 years one of the red oak trees (2 ft dbh) has been putting out fewer and fewer leaves...some large limbs have no leaves at all and the crown has maybe 10-20% of the leaves that used to be in the crown a few years ago. So, what's going on? The tree has some sort of disease or has it been attached by some insect pest? Will this spread to other oaks? Do we need to cut this tree down soon? If so, is the wood (the truck) good for lumber? Any help much appreciated. Walt Boynton

Calvert County Maryland disease issues abiotic issues trees

3 Responses

Many oaks are dying in our region. There is no single cause. For such a situation to occur over many species of oaks and a wide area, it is probably an environmental problem-- multiple years of drought and higher summer temperatures are a possibility. Also, gypsy moths may have weakened some trees in past years. When trees are stressed by unfavorable environmental conditions, they become more susceptible to pest and disease problems as well. There is no single disease or insect that causes oaks to decline -- it is a complex of factors.

Some red oaks are declining due to bacterial leaf scorch. Oak wilt is not active in Maryland generally. Here is more about those diseases:

Take a look at this publication about oak decline.

In home landscapes, planting too deeply, using too much mulch, drought, soil compaction, soil grade changes, herbicides, and/or physical injury to the trunk are some factors that can contribute to tree decline over time.

Trees that are not in close proximity to property can be left in place for use as wildlife snags if you wish. Otherwise, you can take the tree down. Oak does make good lumber or firewood.


This info was very useful...many thanks.