Thursday, January 29, 2015
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Surge in state’s oak deaths worries scientists

sudden_oak_death_10_10_12

A recent survey by UC Berkeley and California Oak Mortality Task Force shows 376,000 dead oak trees across the California regions affected by Sudden Oak Death. (Robinson Kuntz/Daily Republic)

By
From page A1 | October 11, 2012 |

FAIRFIELD — From giant Sequoias in the east to wind-swept Monterey cypresses in the west, California is defined by its trees, so a surge this year in oak deaths is cause for consternation across the Bay Area – including Solano County.

A recently completed survey shows 376,000 dead oak trees across the coastal regions affected by Sudden Oak Death, a pathogen that develops on host plants ranging from the bay laurel to ornamental rhododendrons.

Last year’s survey, like this one aided by volunteers led by scientists at UC Berkeley and the California Oak Mortality Task Force, found 38,000 dead trees across a much smaller area.

“It’s huge. It’s really huge, but it’s not the largest die-off we’ve had,” said Katie Palmieri of the California Oak Mortality Task Force.

Solano County is one of 14 counties known to have Sudden Oak Death. To date, most known cases are along the western border with Napa County, such as in the hills above Green Valley. Coastal clouds often hang long over these Green Valley hills on a summer’s morning. That usually doesn’t happen in other parts of the county.

“Most of our county is really hot,” Assistant Solano County Agricultural Commissioner Simone Hardy said Wednesday. “The organism prefers a cool, damp area.”

Because of budgetary constraints, the county hasn’t done a recent survey for Sudden Oak Death, she said. The county has focused on doing inspections at nurseries to make sure Sudden Oak Death isn’t spread, she said.

The largest die-off came in 2007 after extremely wet springs the previous two years left 830,000 trees dead. The fewest number of dead trees were counted in 2010, when 2,700 trees died after a dry spring in 2009.

The disease that quickly kills trees that can take hundreds of years to grow is present in 14 coastal California counties from Monterey to Humboldt, and just across the border in coastal Oregon.

Oak trees in the Sierra foothills have been spared, and scientists believe drier weather and hotter temperatures create inhospitable conditions for the pathogen.

“Certainly the hosts are present there, but the assumption at this point is that the weather patterns don’t support it,” Palmieri said.

Scientists say that with each passing year the infection sites that once were sporadically spread across a large geographic region have become more contiguous. They fear it eventually could wipe out huge swaths of the gnarly trees that are the defining flora of the state’s golden, rolling hills and whose acorns are a staple for wild deer.

In the current survey the highest rates of new infection in oaks and the beech-family member tan oak were discovered in the Carmel Valley south of Monterey and in the areas around Saratoga west of San Jose. But infected trees also were found inside San Francisco’s urban Golden Gate Park, and in Santa Cruz and the East Bay.

“When individual trees die it’s sad, but when groups of trees die it becomes a huge concern for fire hazard, particularly in the Bay Area, where it’s so developed and we have a wildland-urban interface,” said Tom Smith, a forest pathologist with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Prevention.

Trees are most vulnerable in the spring, and pathogen is spread by wind and in water, which means wet springs are particularly worrisome.

“That’s a huge concern,” Smith said. “The past couple of years we’ve had late spring and early summer rains and that’s ideal for even more deaths in the future. What’s going to happen from this year’s rains?”

Some varieties of oaks are more susceptible than others, and even within those species some are genetically predisposed to resisting infection.

“But with each passing wave of infection we end up with more diseased and dying trees,” Palmieri said.

Chemical preventative treatments must be applied before the oaks are infected, which is why volunteers canvass infected areas every year to look for symptomatic bay laurels and other host plants.

Sudden Oak Death is blamed on a microscopic pathogen introduced into California about 25 years ago, probably on ornamental rhododendrons and camellias. It causes leaf spots in host plants and sometimes entire branches die back. Scientists are still unsure of its origin.

The pathogen gets under the oak’s bark and destroys the cambium – the live outer layer of the tree that transports food. Infected trees cannot be cured die after their food stores are depleted, usually within one to five years.

They can be protected by injecting phosphites, a salt of phosphorus acid.

Barry Eberling contributed to this report. Reach him at 427-6929 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/beberlingdr.

Staff and wire reports

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | No comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

.

Solano News

 
1st release for birds with mysterious goo a success

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A1, 1 Comment | Gallery

 
Council backs beer, wine sales for Vacaville store

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A3

 
Vacaville police seek help to find sex offender

By Kevin W. Green | From Page: A3, 4 Comments | Gallery

 
Sweep by sheriff’s team nets 4 arrests

By Kevin W. Green | From Page: A3, 5 Comments

 
Travis starts work on Functional Fitness Center

By Ian Thompson | From Page: A3

 
Boy Scouts to screen award-winning film

By Ian Thompson | From Page: A3

 
Church makes ready for health, wellness fair

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

 
4-H Annual Presentation Day returns in February

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

Vacaville SWAT team serves search warrant

By Kevin W. Green | From Page: A3

 
Real estate occupancy continues to climb

By Kevin W. Green | From Page: A3, 1 Comment

Fairfield police log: Jan. 27, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A10, 1 Comment

 
Suisun City police log: Jan. 27, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A10, 2 Comments

.

US / World

 
Air Force probing alleged ‘treason’ remark by general

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1, 1 Comment | Gallery

Expect tiny tuxes but no real puppy love at doggy weddings

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2 | Gallery

 
Large salmon release planned

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

Violations mount for toxic recycler

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

 
Quake rattles N. California coast

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

Second arrest in student stabbing

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4, 1 Comment

 
Marshals track down missing treasure hunter

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

‘Drunk’ excuse falls flat in Vandy rape trial

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Attorney General nominee defends Obama immigration changes

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5, 1 Comment | Gallery

Police seek law to alter Google app

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5, 1 Comment

 
ISIS extends hostage deadline

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

Euro coast guards scramble to locate Syrian ghost ship

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

 
Chinese regulators go after online sale of fake goods

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

Investigation stems from police-involved shooting outbreak

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

 
Hezbollah missiles kill soldiers

By New York Times | From Page: A6

Tape: Scientist offers to build nuke bomb targeting New York

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10 | Gallery

 
.

Opinion

Don’t brush off bullying

By Kelvin Wade | From Page: A7, 2 Comments

 
Editorial Cartoon: Jan. 29, 2015

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7

Just be honest and come forward

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A7, 1 Comment

 
A truly misinformed writer

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A7, 31 Comments

 
India now has 322 billion reasons to fix economy

By William Pesek | From Page: A7

.

Living

Today in History: Jan. 29, 2015

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Community Calendar: Jan. 29, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

Deadbeat boyfriend ruined my relationship with my granddaughter

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: A9

 
Horoscope Jan. 29, 2015

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: A9

.

Entertainment

TVGrid

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Theater legend Joel Grey reveals that he is gay

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5, 2 Comments

Super Bowl advertisers aim not to offend

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

 
.

Sports

Kings center DeMarcus Cousins hoping to make All-Star team

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Rodriguez wrestlers pull out 34-24 win over Wood

By Brian Arnold | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Solano men cruise past LMC for biggest win of season

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B2

NFL players who started young show more thinking problems

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
GM John Schneider has been architect of Seahawks’ success

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Patriots not dwelling on last Super Bowl loss in Arizona

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Woods returns to Phoenix with plenty of memories

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Tony Stewart acquires national sprint car series tour

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Head of NCAA enforcement: Academic misconduct on rise

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

Chicago Cubs’ Ernie Banks statue moved downtown for tribute

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
Kobe Bryant has surgery, expected to be out for 9 months

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

Korda, Lewis, Munoz tied for lead at LPGA season opener

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
This date in sports history for Jan. 29, 2015

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

 
.

Business

.

Obituaries

.

Comics

Wizard of Id

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Peanuts

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

For Better or Worse

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Blondie

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Zits

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Rose is Rose

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Baby Blues

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Baldo

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Get Fuzzy

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Sally Forth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

B.C.

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Beetle Bailey

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Frank and Ernest

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Garfield

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Dilbert

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Pickles

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Cryptoquote

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

 
Sudoku

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

Crossword

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

 
Bridge

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

Word Sleuth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9