Oak Wilt Fungal Mats

Fungal Mat Image

Hand me a Gransfors Bruk hatchet and show me an oak wilt center with a mixed oak forest with red oaks in it and I will find either, immature, mature, aging, or declining fungal mats – or all the above.

Fungal mats are common. Overland transmission (by nitidulid beetle) happens frequently. It happens frequently because fungal mats are common when red oaks are present in oak wilt centers and the most impacted area of Texas is the central Texas region, which is replete with red oak species. Ever wonder why the Texas A&M Forest Service says to paint all oak wounds all year long but say that fungal mats form in the spring? Here’s two little secrets they are not sharing (for whatever reason):

 

  1. Beetles are active all year long.

  2. Fungal mats are present all year long.

 

Why an entire webpage devoted to fungal mats you ask? I have chosen to do so because the most important prevention activity - that of inoculum reduction (i.e. the source of every new oak wilt center), is an absolutely foundational management strategy that is currently receiving very little attention by the state agencies entrusted with oak wilt education. By way of further explanation, the Texas A&M Forest Service provides cost share funding for only two oak wilt management treatment activities – trenching and oak wilt-infected red oak removals. In 2017 there were 5 infected red oak removals cost-
shared, in 2018 a grand total of 0 (zero, nil, nada..), in 2019 a grand total of 2, and in 2020
a grand total of 3 red oak trees were cost shared for removal.

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