Chestnut oaks are dying

Asked August 16, 2019, 7:11 AM EDT

Many of the chestnut oaks in a wooded section of our yard are dying. We have one large mature oak whose leaves turned brown quickly and are dropping. I noticed a few weeks ago that a sapling next to our driveway did the same thing. Upon further investigation it seems that several saplings have died and it appears that several other mature trees are also affected. These trees have leaves that have wilted but are not yet dead. I am in Harford County. There are no pesticides, herbicides, or fertilizers used near the trees. Some of the affected trees are located next to our driveway. Is there a known disease affecting Chestnut oaks?

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1 Response

Oaks are dying all over the region -- and we've had many reports of dying Chestnut oaks, in particular, over the last several years. No insect or disease has been found to be the cause, so that means it is probably related to environment/climate/weather. Multiple years of drought and heatwaves may be contributing to the problem.

Here is an article about the factors that contribute to oak decline. https://extension.tennessee.edu/publications/Documents/SP675.pdf

There isn't really much you can do to "reverse" decline in mature oak trees, unfortunately. Wait until next spring to see if any of the trees put out any new growth. If they do not, then they are finished. If you have specimen trees close to your home, you could have them evaluated by a certified arborist to see what your options are. You can find a certified arborist using this website from the International Society of Arboriculture, http://www.treesaregood.org/.

Christa