When trying to determine if an oak may have SOD (caused by the plant pathogen Phytophthora ramorum), the first step is to determine if the tree lies within 1 km of a known outbreak. This can be done by accessing SODMAP at www.sodmap.org or by uploading the free “SODMAP Mobile” app to your smartphone. Stand next to the tree in question and tap the risk button. A response of moderate or high risk would suggest Phytophthora ramorum may be present. The next step is to confirm it is indeed P. ramorum. Make sure the oozing is not wetwood, or bacterial flux, which typically is associated with much more oozing and often has an unpleasant odor. Bacterial flux usually has a watery secretion running down the trunk that originates from a wound or branch crotch. If all symptoms align with SOD, the next step is to test for P. ramorum. If a symptomatic California bay laurel tree is within 10 m of the oak, collect symptomatic bay leaves for testing. This is not a definite diagnosis for the oak, but it may be an acceptable one that does not involve wounding the oak tree for sampling. Bay-based diagnosis for an oak may be less accurate after multiple years of drought, as bays may actually turn from SOD positive to SOD negative during extended dry conditions. One can get bay leaves tested by participating in one of the annual SOD blitzes (www.sodblitz.org) or by submitting samples to the California Department of Food and Agriculture. Testing the oak requires debarking a portion of the tree until the margins of the putative SOD lesion under the bark are visible and then plating the margins of the lesion on Phytophthora-selective medium for laboratory analysis.
Survival of P. ramorum (SOD pathogen) in wood chips depends on a few factors:
- Were the chips allowed to become wet?
- What size are the chips?
- Is green waste present?
- What time of year was the wood chipped?
- Where in California are the chips located?
Chips that are piled wet or tarped and include infected green waste (e.g. bay laurel leaves) may support pathogen viability for over 1 year, especially in mild coastal areas. If the wood is chipped in the summer and early fall and the chips are not piled, but rather broadcast in a 1-inch layer in a dry and sun-exposed area, pathogen viability may only be supported for a few weeks, especially if in hotter interior areas.
Survival of P. ramorum (SOD pathogen) in dead hosts or non-plant substrates is extremely variable and strongly affected by climatic factors. Although a comprehensive study on this topic has not conducted, extrapolating from several studies we can say the following:
Soil becomes more infectious from late winter to early summer in the presence of rainfall, so any movement of soil away from a SOD-infested area from January to July could transport viable P. ramorum.
Keep the following in mind:
- The larger the volume of soil moved, the greater the risk.
- In organic rich soils (e.g. top layers of forest soils), pathogen survival is less than 18 months.
- If P. ramorum is present in green waste incorporated in the soil, survival can be much longer (2 years or more).
- In inert soils (e.g. potting mix), the pathogen can survive multiple years. However, for all soils, areas with less temperate climates (cold winters, hot summers) may hasten loss of pathogen viability.
From a practical perspective, if infested forest soil is picked up on tires or shoes from late winter to early summer, the pathogen will likely remain viable for about 1 year, in the absence of incorporated green waste. If soil is picked up from late summer to early fall, survival duration is much less, possibly in the order of a few months.
SOD Blitzes include a training session for blitz volunteers on SOD and proper sampling, followed by time in the field for collecting and marking sample locations. All necessary collection materials are provided to volunteers during the training session for use either the same day of the training or the day after. All samples are to be dropped off at a designated location (location announced at the training session). There are approximately 20 SOD Blitzes in areas of California that have sudden oak death or at risk of disease establishment. Most of the training sessions are offered on Saturday mornings. SOD Blitz schedules for the coming year are posted annually during the last week of January at www.sodblitz.org.
Leaf tip scorch symptoms on redwood trees are found from the lower to upper canopy and include healthy leaves interspersed with brown and grey leaves or portions of leaves. Grey leaves typically have black margins into the healthy tissue.
Such symptoms are typically caused by a fungus called Pestalotiopsis funerea. They are commonly associated with drought, when rainfall occurs or when there is overhead watering around the tree. Drought stress predisposes plants to being infected, so the increased moisture facilitates the infection process. Normally the fungus will only seriously affect sprouts, as branches of adult tress will regrow areas killed by the infection within a year. In nursery settings it is important to increase ventilation and avoid big differences in watering regimes to minimize symptoms.
Injections may be better for large trees with a regular shape, while topical applications may be better for large, irregular, gnarly trees.
In order to obtain maximum efficacy with oak phosphonate treatments, minimum temperatures should not be below 50 ºF. Maximum daytime temperatures should be higher than 60 ºF, but not exceed 85 ºF.
Based on the study published by the UC Berkeley Garbelotto lab in California Agriculture (http://nature.berkeley.edu/garbelotto/downloads/calag2009.pdf), azomite and/or lime washes alone are not effective in controlling SOD.
While phosphonate injections to help control SOD are now recommended once every 2 years, spray applications should still be applied to the bark of oak trees annually.