dying oak trees

Asked September 9, 2019, 9:49 AM EDT

In my neighborhood of Fellowship Forest (21286) we are experiencing multiple oak tress seemingly dying within a week. They are dropping all their leaves very quickly.Is there a blight hitting oak trees and is there anything we can do to prevent the spread?

Baltimore County Maryland oak decline abiotic issues trees

1 Response

Hi -- Oaks are declining all over the region, unfortunately. 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, white oaks are intolerant of water-logged soils. Last year's excessively wet weather may have contributed to the problem. Root stress can lead to early fall coloration, browning, and early leaf drop. This year, we have had drought and excessive heat in many areas. When trees are stressed by unfavorable environmental conditions, they become more susceptible to pest and disease issues as well.

Some oaks are dying of bacterial leaf scorch, which is more common in red oaks and pin oaks in urban/suburban situations. Oak wilt is not active in Maryland generally. Here is more about those diseases: https://extension.umd.edu/hgic/why-oak-trees-are-declining

Take a look at this publication about 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 the trees put out any new growth. If they do not, then they are finished. You could consult with a certified arborist if you would like to have any trees evaluated. You can find an arborist near you using this website from the International Society of Arboriculture. http://www.treesaregood.org/