The Costs of Oak Wilt Treatment

The costs of oak wilt treatment measures are comparatively reasonable – compared to the value the trees contribute to the overall property value and compared to the costs of doing nothing.

Any way you look at it – oak wilt leaves economic losses upon those whose property is affected or in the neighboring vicinity. The best response is one in which the landowner seeks to reasonably minimize their long-term losses/expenses. Importantly, that does not necessarily mean the less short-term expenses you incur – the lower your long-term losses will be. Often the case is the exact opposite.

I am a BCMA and I regularly perform Tree & Plant Appraisals as well as provide real estate inspections as part of one or both parties seeking to satisfy due diligence during the transaction. In many cases, the disease – when left completely untreated has rendered most of the oaks dead. The new buyer will expect the costs and headache of a large removal and replanting project to be reduced from the sales price. In most cases, this amount will significantly exceed say an injection campaign over numerous years of almost exclusive single treatment per large trees say over 12”+.  At $10.00 (plus tax if applicable) per diameter at breast height (dbh), that typically runs almost 25-33% of full removal costs. Under 12” dbh tree removals often can be handled by a landowner and they don’t have near the value of the larger trees (value exponentially increases with size). The larger trees are much more costly and dangerous to remove, not to mention that they represent the lion’s share of the contributive value of plants to a property’s overall value. In those cases of larger properties – the option of trenching and silvicide or silvicide alone can be quite less than a bulldozer “fix” or a fungicide treatment plan.

Fungicide Costs

Screen Shot 2019 11 13 At 11.38.43 AmLet’s look further into the costs of Macro-injection of Alamo for “high-value” oaks. High value is admittedly somewhat subjective. Different landowners have varying views of what constitutes high value to them. At a minimum, I would propose that in most cases – not every oak on a piece of property are high value. Some trees may very well even have a negative value and value of the property would increase with their removal (i.e. visually detracting tree in a prominent location, a large high-risk rotten oak in close proximity to a major property improvement such as a home). Others may have value as sacrificial signal or flare trees mapping the location of the fungus in order to most effectively maintain a single injection per tree program, which obviously would significantly reduce fungicide costs.

The consumer should be advised - some contractors have quite unfortunately switched to generic fungicides to lower their costs. This is not a cost reduction a customer should want to support. Oak wilt injections are somewhat similar to a once only at bat baseball event. This is an all or nothing proposition. Alamo is the flagship product with the best and most research and product manufacturing quality control measures and oak wilt is a primary pathogen and possibly the worst tree disease ever. Demand the best. In the event that the species and or size of the tree may raise to probability of phytotoxicity or the tree is so sick that a macro-injection approach will almost certainly fail to get enough fungicide into the oak, then a microinjection with the second-best product on the market is likely warranted. That product is Tebuject 6ml and is made by Mauget.

One positive aspect of fungicide treatment is that in many cases the property owner has a lengthy span of time to space out injection costs on account of the disease generally moves anywhere from 50-150’ per year. For example, on a 1-acre lot it may take 3-7 years to travel completely through. For instance, if there are 30 high-value trees spaced out relatively evenly throughout the property, and the median diameter is about 15” dbh then the total costs of $4,500.00 (plus tax) and say the disease would move through the property in 4.5 years – the annually allotted oak wilt injection costs would be about $1,000.00.

Trenching & or Silvicide Costs

There are many tangentials in these two particular approaches that don’t allow for set pricing everywhere. As far as approximate pricing:

Arborist consultation: (free - $200 per hour) 

Machine transport costs: $750-$1500

Daily operator costs: $750-$1500 (500-1500 linear feet)

Fuel and teeth repair: $250-750

Silvicide in trench: $1000 first application minimum / $750 second application minimum

Clearly there are some big numbers here, but stopping the disease long-term is a highly valuable result. What is important to remember here is – you get what you pay for. If an excavator is recommended but you opt to utilize a rock saw anyways – you could end up really regretting it. If you choose to disregard the need in almost all cases the need to rogue or silvicide – you could really end up regretting it. If you hire the non-expert to design the trench and install it to save a buck – you could really end up regretting it.

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