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Plant Diseases/Live Oak Issue



Hello, our live oak has this problem with the bark. It's been doing this for a few years, and now we are concerned that the tree is compromised and/or needs to be removed.  We live near Gainesville, Florida. I think it's smooth patch disease, and my husband thinks it's heart rot.  We just don't want the tree falling down. Do you know what this is?

I do not think it is smooth bark disease. This usually effects a larger area of the trunk. It looks like borer damage to me. Borers are insects that will enter the bark and bore into the woody. In the long run they can cause decay fungi to enter. The decay fungi will not kill the tree and is very slow working and over many, many years could cause the center the trunk to become hollow. But this is not a serious problem that you need be concerned with. .  

Borers usually attack a weakened tree. I would spray the area with an insecticide called Merit or Onyx. This will kill the insect under the bark. Then I would fertilize the tree with 10-10-10 fertilizer at the rate of 1 lb. of fertilizer per inch of trunk diameter scattered around the tree and watered in good. Apply the fertilizer just before a rain event and you will not need to water. scatter the fertilizer around the tree starting about 3 feet from the trunk out to beyond the branch over hang. Do this now and again this winter and this will increase the overall health of the tree and help the tree ward off the borer attacks. Check with your local garden type store for the insecticide and fertilizer.

I hope this helps.  

Plant Diseases

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Jim Hyland


30 years experiance in the ID and management of forest diseases and ID of landscape tree diseases.

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