Butt rot is a fungal infection often found in hardwood and conifer trees. Its root cause is the Armillaria species of fungus. Its symptoms include indicators of decline, thinning leaves, branch death, trunk failure, and, in the end, any remaining leaves are wilted and yellow. Butt rot can infect any tree, but it hits harder in trees that are already not thriving. While it is highly infectious, it does not mean a death sentence for all of your trees. The following are four things you can do to prevent the spread of butt rot.
Trench Around Your Trees
If you are not comfortable working to stop the spread of butt rot, contact a pest elimination and wood preservation company to do the work for you. If you are comfortable, however, trenching is a great way to sever the roots and stop the spread of Armillaria fungus from happening underground.
To trench your trees, dig a three foot deep trench the entire way around any infected trees. Line the trench with plastic and then refill it with dirt. This blocks the contaminated roots from reaching the roots of healthy trees and spreading butt rot. While trenching, it is a good idea to put in root barriers around each of your trees so their roots cannot touch.
Remove Surrounding Trees and Shrubs
Butt rot can take one to three years to surface in trees and shrubs. If a nearby tree is showing signs of infection, odds are that any surrounding trees and shrubs are also infected. Remove them immediately to prevent the spread of the Armillaria fungus to any further trees or shrubs.
Expose the Collar of Infected Trees
One way to promote the health of trees that are infected with butt rot is to expose their collars. The collar is the area where the roots attach to the trunk. Dig around the trunk until the collar is exposed. This eliminates future vascular decay while extending the productive life of the tree. While this is a good strategy to promote the health of a tree that would die otherwise, it only works in small zones of infection where the root system and collar are compromised.
Introduce an Opposing Fungus
Professionals have had luck eliminating the Armillaria fungus by introducing and opposing fungus like Trichoderma. However, studies have only shown a significant decrease in infection in places with a small infection zone; other places with larger numbers of infected trees did not show a significant decrease, rendering the implantation of the opposing fungus a failure.
Butt rot, caused by the Armillaria fungus, can do some serious damage to your trees and shrubs. It can spread through the root system to infect a large orchard’s worth of trees in very limited time. Butt rot can leave trees looking lifeless and stunted and can cause damage as extreme as the death of a tree. However, its damage can be stopped by disinfecting your tools between each tree or shrub you work with and following the aforementioned four tips.