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Oak Wilt Hits Farmington Neighborhood

Keith and Jennifer Kaminski believe the disease took hold after strong storms took down limbs.

Brown leaves caused by oak wilt are prominent on an oak tree in front of a home on Lamar in Farmington. Photo credit: Joni Hubred-Golden
Brown leaves caused by oak wilt are prominent on an oak tree in front of a home on Lamar in Farmington. Photo credit: Joni Hubred-Golden
Keith and Jennifer Kaminski knew something was wrong when healthy leaves began falling off the large oak tree in front of their home on Lamar in Farmington.

They looked online for information and called in an arborist, who delivered the bad news: The tree had oak wilt and needed to come down. 

"The arborist said the tree is about 100 years old," Keith said. "It's one of the biggest trees on the street." 

The Kaminskis suspect that the disease hit when limbs came down after strong storms blew through a few weeks ago. Arborist Steve Martinko of Contender's Tree & Lawn Specialists said they may be right. 

"Storm damage is a high risk, because the open wounds leave room for beetles to spread oak wilt quickly," he said. 

By the time a homeowner sees the signs of oak wilt, Martinko said, it's too late to save the tree. The best bet is to keep an eye on neighboring trees. "Leaves falling down in the summer is not a good sign," he said. "That's an instant red flag."

An arborist can inject a fungicide into the tree trunk, but even that may not be enough if the tree is under stress or had other problems. The disease spreads either through roots or by the beetles, who chew on one tree and then move on to the next, Martinko said. 

Jennifer bought the couple's home 14 years ago; they married in 2006. Along with being disappointed at the loss of their own tree, they are also concerned about what will happen to others in the neighborhood. Already, the tree next door is showing signs of the disease. 

"The sad part is ... you probably lose close to $20,000 in value on your house," Keith said. "And you can't plant again." 
KENDRA August 14, 2013 at 12:42 PM
The article did not say if the diagnosis was confirmed by twigs sent in for pathological diagnosis. It is nearly impossible to ID just on symptoms in the field. If it is oak wilt, and the trees are removed, the homeowner can indeed replant another tree. Only oaks are susceptible to oak wilt disease. The article implies nothing can ever grow there ever again. I would suggest a conifer such as a blue spruce. A list of cross sensitivities can be found regarding which other trees are prone to oak wilt. I think you will find it is a small list of similar nut trees.
I had a 100 year old home on 10 acres in Farmington Hills so yes I fully understand about losing trees - although I suppose that since I owned 10,000 trees it didn't bother me too much. My suggestion would be to plant a variety of $10 saplings in a corner of your property and in a few years you will have many decent sized trees to re-plant around your property for a very small investment.
Ilene Mitz & Loren Stewart August 14, 2013 at 04:03 PM
As a Realtor...I would not de-value your property $20,000 for the loss of the tree...it is unfortunate to lose such an old and beautiful tree and, there is much you can do to bring back the curb appeal!
yodar crutch August 31, 2013 at 07:28 AM
You know Mr. Curmudgeon .... If world problems are so important to you then WHY ARE YOU READING THE LOCAL PAPER...I think the point of the article is to inform people of the tree disease. Why is it that just the simple "slice of life" story has to generate such negative comments.
yodar crutch August 31, 2013 at 07:32 AM
I think Peggy's comments are very thoughtful...trees add such uniqueness to each property.

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