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Question
Bark peel
Bark peel  

Hole
Hole  
White Oak in front yard of home in Northern Virginia near DC.

Bark peeled on one half of lower part of tree over last 3 years.

Large hole on one side at trunk/soil intersection.  Expanding over last year.  can put hand down there a couple of feet.

Large mushrooms on occasion at trunk/soil intersection.

Crown looks OK, leaves and acorns normal.

Should we cut down tree as safety hazard in neighborhood?

Answer
Well your tree had a decay fungi that is slowly decaying the wood. The Mushroom is the fruiting body of the fungi that is growing in the woody cells. Decay fungi are slow working and over many years will slowly deacy the trunk from the inside out. tghe decay being low on the trunk it seems to be getting into the root system.  This will cause the tree trunk to become hollow. There is not really anything that can be done to kill this fungi since it is inside the trunk. It will help a lot is you fertilize the tree. Fertilize with 10-10-10 fertilizer at the rate of 1 lb per inch of trunk diameter. Scatter the fertilize around the tree and water it in good. IF you apply the fertilizer just before a rain storm you will not needd to water. If you fertilize I would do it now and again in the spring. This will increase the overall health of the tree and slow the decay process.
Now the question of the tree being a hazard. IF the foliage of the crown is full and green the tree is still growing. With the decay being near the ground that part of the root system will decay and lose the strength on that side of the tree. A hazard tree is usually defined as IF the tree were to be blown over what will it hit. In other words it is a hazard to something else, house, parked car, etc. If it were to be blown over and will not hit anything it really is not a hazard. That will need to be your call since I can not tell what the location to other structures is.  

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Jim Hyland

Expertise

I am an expert in Forestry, Forest Entomology, Forest Pest Control, and Forest Health. Extensive knowledge in Identification of insects and diseases of trees. Expert on Bark beetles and other insects that attack forests. Also a Registrated Forester with extensive knowledge in the management and care of forests.

Experience

34 years as State Pest Management Chief in a Southern state. Extensive knowledge in Forestry.

BS with major in Forest Management and Entomology
Registered Forester
Certified Pesticide Appicator

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