The Texas drought of 2011 may be remembered nationally for the widespread wildfires our state endured and the news media attention it garnered. Here in the Piney Woods region of the southeast quadrant of the state, we escaped most of the wildfires, but we are plagued with another great problem: dead and dying trees.
Our dense forests, along with our front- and backyards, are populated with 60+ tall oaks and loblolly pine trees, all indigenous to this region precisely because of the typically abundant amount of rainfall this region has. But not this year, and the wide varieties of oak trees here are at risk of another lethal condition. If the drought has not killed an oak outright yet, the tree might be at risk of dying from another related condition, hypoxylon canker, one of the most lethal of oak diseases.
Hypoxylon canker is a fungus that causes the death of oak trees and other hardwoods. The oak disease is very common here in the Southeastern region of Texas, but is typically only a problem for weakened trees. Drought happens to be a condition that will weaken oaks. Oaks that have been deprived of enough rainfall are highly susceptible to hypoxylon canker oak disease. Under current drought conditions, this oak disease might become epidemic.
The fungus spreads by spores and will not usually be a problem for a healthy tree. But an unhealthy tree is more likely to have areas where the hypoxylon canker fungus might gain access to the sapwood of the tree. And once that happens, there is no undoing it. The tree begins to decay, and it all happens pretty fast. A strong and healthy tree suddenly becomes weak and dead, and at great risk of falling down.
Therefore, all trees that are on your property, or that grow nearby and could easily fall on your property, are trees you will want to water. If you have oaks or other hardwoods that you suspect may be infected with the disease, call an arborist like Southeast Texas Trees LLC to evaluate the tree. And if infected, have it cut down before it comes down of its own accord.