Is it okay to prune coast live oaks in the winter if there is no SOD inoculum in the area? Are there other pests that are active in the winter that are of concern?
Although there may be few insects flying in the winter, the wet winter season (actually fall through spring) is a prime time for production of fruiting bodies by many wood decay fungi. The combination of fresh pruning wounds (especially large wounds), high spore densities of wood decay fungi, and moist conditions (favoring spore germination) can favor new infections by these fungi. From the standpoint of reducing risk of infection by wood decay fungi, pruning in late spring or early summer is probably preferable.
In general, pruning live branches from mature oaks should be kept to a minimum. However, if it is necessary to prune coast live oak branches, as long as they are less than 4″ in diameter, the presence of SOD is not a concern. Though, it is important to prune the oak correctly.
• Make sure you prune right where the tapering of the branch ends from the main stem or even slightly closer to the stem (1/2 in. from the end of the tapering towards the stem).
• Make sure the cut is clean and allows for water to drip without accumulating.