Grand old Bur Oak not leafing out

Asked July 23, 2020, 11:36 PM EDT

We have a large beloved Bur Oak in our back yard that has only sparsely leafed out this year and has numerous dead smaller branches throughout. The leaves that are there don't appear to have any disease, but we're at a loss about the sudden change. Attached is a drone photo from June 2020 and a Google Earth photo from 2019. Note the difference between the Bur Oak in our front yard vs. the back. The 2019 photo shows a little die-back, but it's very dramatic this year and seems worse since a month ago when this pic was taken. Is there anything we can do? Should the dead twigs and branches be pruned back? This would seem to be a huge task due to the hundreds of tiny branches, and I know should normally be done in the fall. But once the leaves are gone how would one know which are still alive? Is there any hope of reviving this tree, or at least prolonging it's life a few years? I couldn't find much online except the well known oak diseases--which this doesn't seem to resemble. But I did find this article by By Brian Schwingle, DNR forest health specialist, that seems like the same problem (although we're not aware of any wasp issues) https://www.pinecountynews.com/news/some-oaks-struggle-to-leaf-out-in-area/article_e2f5406a-7adb-11e8-b6db-efaeb839f051.html

Hennepin County Minnesota

3 Responses

To get an accurate diagnosis the tree should be evaluated by a certified arborist. One can only speculate from photos. It might be suffering from Bur Oak Blight.

Thank you. We'll be contacting a certified arborist next week. After more searching, the symptoms seems to fit Armillaria root rot https://extension.umn.edu/plant-diseases/armillaria-root-rot.
But we're not going to rely on Google for an answer. Hoping we can bring it back, but our optimism is waning.

For either disease you will want the opinion of an arborist. Hoping for good news....