New York State's Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and Department of Agriculture and Markets (DAM) announced today that the oak tree disease, oak wilt, has been detected in the borough of Brooklyn, Kings County and in the towns of Babylon, Islip, Riverhead, and Southold in Suffolk County. The disease was identified by the Cornell Plant Disease Diagnostic Clinic after samples from symptomatic oak trees were collected by DEC Forest Health Technicians.
Oak wilt had previously been found in Scotia, Schenectady County,
until it was identified in Canandaigua, Ontario County, and Central
Islip, Long Island earlier this year. Since then, reports of symptomatic
oak trees from concerned tree care professionals, as well as the
public, have led to the additional detections. The confirmation of the
disease in Brooklyn marks the fourth county where oak wilt has been
confirmed in New York.
There is no known treatment to contain and kill the oak wilt fungus
other than to remove the infected trees, as well as any surrounding host
oak trees. At this time, DEC will remove and destroy oaks that have
tested positive for the fungus. Testing for oak wilt must be done during
the growing season when the fungus is active, so intensive sampling
will take place across Kings, Nassau, and Suffolk counties starting next
spring to determine the extent of the disease. Aerial surveys will be
conducted beginning in July when signs of oak wilt will be most
DEC is in the process of issuing emergency orders to establish
protective zones encompassing the entirety of Suffolk County and the
borough of Brooklyn. The emergency orders will prohibit the removal of
any living, dead, standing, cut, or fallen oak trees or any portion
thereof, including branches, logs, stumps, or roots, and green oak
lumber and firewood (of any species) out of the protective zones unless
it has been chipped to less than one inch in two dimensions.
State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball said, "Oak wilt is a
fast-moving disease that can kill a large amount of trees quickly. It is
important to follow these emergency orders closely to prevent the
disease from spreading and protect our trees."
Oak wilt is a serious tree disease in the eastern United States,
killing thousands of oaks each year in forests, woodlots, and home
landscapes. It is caused by a fungus, Ceratocystis fagacearum. The
fungus grows in the water conducting vessels of host trees plugging up
these vessels and preventing water transport. As water movement within
the tree is slowed, the leaves wilt and drop off, and the tree dies
DEC asks the public to be on the lookout next summer for oak trees
that suddenly lose leaves during the months of July and August and to
report these occurrences to the Forest Health Information Line toll-free
For more information about oak wilt or the emergency order, please visit DEC's website.
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