Yes, you can apply phosphonate to your oak trees to help protect them from sudden oak death. You can find it in many Bay Area garden supply stores.
If you apply it topically to the bark, you will also need the surfactant Pentra-Bark® and you will need a sprayer. If you choose to inject it, you will need enough injectors to treat your largest tree (1 injector every 6 inches around the circumference). Treatments should be applied between November 1st and December 15th for best results.
For details on how to apply phosphonates, go to www.matteolab.org, “Treatment and Diagnosis” (at top of page).
The symptoms on your oak may be caused by a range of issues. If oozing is accompanied by the presence of fine sawdust, then the tree is dying. Even if it is still green you may want to consider removing it if its failure may cause harm to people or property. The fine sawdust is caused by beetles tunneling in the tree. Oaks are only attacked by beetles when dying. If no sawdust is present, then the tree’s condition may be reversible.
Unfortunately, it is difficult to determine what may be the cause of the symptoms you describe. Sudden Oak Death (SOD) can attack an oak tree if California bay laurel is within 60 feet of the oak. You can use the free SODmap Mobile App to determine if you are in a high or moderate risk zone for SOD. To find out how to do that, go to www.sodmapmobile.org. There is also a YouTube video you can watch at https://youtu.be/zE0_q3EmIfs. If the information you gather suggests that it may be SOD, then repeat the phosphite bark application (such as Agri-Fos® combined with Pentra-Bark®) in the fall between October 30th and December 15th. You may also want to consider removal of bays within 30 feet from the oak. Go to http://nature.berkeley.edu/garbelottowp/?page_id=909 to find out about upcoming treatment training sessions to learn more about treatment options. If there are no bays within 60 feet of your oak and the SODmap mobile risk is low, then it likely isn’t SOD.
If you have watered your oak, it may be a root disease such as the oak root fungus or Phytophthora cinnamomi root disease. Make sure you stop watering and expose the upper root system to the air to slow disease progression. If you have never watered your oak, then it may be a secondary disease brought on by the long drought (ex. oak die-back fungus). These are diseases that are strongly affected by the genetics of the tree and weather conditions. In this case, you may want to try watering the tree now and then once again in 2 weeks. Then water once a month starting October 15th. Do not water between July 10th and October 15th. Watering should be done using a low flow approach to ensure that the soil gets wet up to 1 foot down and that no flooding of the tree ever occurs. Unfortunately, if the secondary disease is too advanced, despite all efforts, the tree may still die.
Disclaimer: Mention of any company, trade name, or commercial product does not constitute endorsement by the University of California or recommendation for use. Always follow the manufacturer’s directions, restrictions, and precautions on the product label.
Once an oak has the oak root fungus Armillaria (often due to excessive watering), most treatments will be ineffective. Be sure the base of the tree is free of mulch and other organic debris and slightly expose the root system at the root collar. While fertilizing may not help, try using one bark application of Agri-Fos + PentraBark. This application provides minimum nutrients, but strengthens the defense mechanisms of the tree. Of course, stop watering unless absolutely necessary. Water should never be administered from July-September.
Both bay laurels and tanoaks can spread SOD while most oaks are not infectious. Therefore, bay removal is typically aimed at protecting oaks. In the absence of bays, you may actually be able to facilitate survival of asymptomatic tanoaks, but only if their density is low (about 20 per acre). A possible plan of action may thus be to eliminate all medium-sized bay trees (up to 20 inch DBH) that are not in a riparian setting and to eliminate all infected tanoaks. You may then decide to leave a few well-spaced tanoaks (50 feet minimum from one another), ensuring none of them are within 30 feet of an oak.
Chemjet® injectors (coil activated) – volume to be injected = 20 ml; 10% of current label dose; pressure 20 PSI (pressure of injector is already set)
Arborjet® injectors – volume to be injected = 40 ml; 5% of current label dose; pressure set at 35 PSI
Injections should be done every 2 years. Every year you inject, stagger injection points 2 inches up and 2 inches sideways.
• As a rule of thumb, use one injection every 6 inches, with all injections at the same height.
• Start injections the first year as low as possible on trunk.
• Avoid injecting under branch stubs or punks.
• Injections should take 1-10 minutes to be absorbed. If they are absorbed in less than 1 minute, the material was not absorbed by vessels. If it takes longer than 10 minutes to be absorbed, the timing was not good for the treatment.
• Good days/timing for injections are warm and breezy days between 10 am and 3 pm.
• Leave injection holes unplugged.