Oak Trees

Why Would the Bark Fall Off Oak Trees?

Rowsem added on October 7, 2012 | Answered

Why would bark fall off oak trees? They are old and in 10-year dev.

House built 8 yrs ago. The oaks have some weeping stain after the second year. Now six years later the bark is falling off. One tree has grooves in the exposed wood where the bark fell off. Other oaks have just the exposed wood showing.

What should we do? We had a Bartlett tree service come out and he said to fertilize the trees. Are the trees diseased? Should we have them removed? I do not know if our neighbors have the same problem. If we have them removed, how do we dispose of the trees?

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Certified GKH Gardening Expert
Answered on October 26, 2012

They are likely diseased, but they do not need to be removed. They likely have bacterial wetwood. Once a tree is infected, there is not much you can do to cure the tree. But, the good news is that this disease does not kill the tree or cause any real damage. The bark is coming off in some areas because the sap is oozing out and the cambium is being affected. To prevent this in the future, make sure to keep the trees from getting wounded, as this causes a new place for the sap to leak out (and affect the bark again).

The tree service person is correct in that the trees need extra fertilizer. Bacterial wetwood sap leaches the nutrients out of the tree and these need to be replaced at a higher rate than normal trees to keep the tree healthy.

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