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By Amanda Lee

Once SOD-infested oaks, bay laurels, and other trees are taken down, that material is still capable of infecting living trees. Recommendations for disposal of SOD-infested material found on www.suddenoakdeath.org website from the “Homeowner’s Guide” (http://nature.berkeley.edu/comtf/pdf/HomeownersGuide6-07.pdf ) are:  “In infested areas where burning is not possible, the best option is to leave infested material on site, chipping the small material (for use as ground cover) and using larger pieces for firewood. Composting can also successfully kill the pathogen, but the compost must reach temperatures that are probably not possible or practical in a home composting site. Since inoculum levels are already thought to be high in an infested site, leaving the additional inoculum from the infested plant material on site will not significantly worsen the local disease conditions.”

I remember Matteo Garbelotto (the main speaker at the August 2nd SOD Forum in Woodside), in answer to my question asking the very same thing, recommended homeowners cut up or chip Bay Laurel branches and leave them on their property in a sunny location as far away from SOD susceptible oaks as possible.  I understood him to say that the heat from sun exposure tends to kill or diminish the pathogen over time.  Only the Bay leaves host the pathogen.  When the pathogen is on the ground (as opposed to above via live bay branches) it is much less able to travel to the trunk of the oaks and thereby infect them; the pathogen does not seem to infect the oaks via their root system.  Matteo also said that putting bay laurel debris in GreenWaste yard trimming collection pickup is a very good option since GreenWaste’s composting is regulated and attains the required heat to kill the pathogen.  The amount of debris may make this too difficult for some to accomplish.

When moving cut bay branches, try to avoid dragging by your oaks.  This is not always possible of course.  I have wrapped a few oak trunks that I know will come into contact with branch removal with visquine/plastic I had on hand (could use a tarp or whatever).  Just be sure to toss or disinfect when you're done.  This is purely my idea, so take it with a grain of salt - I figured it couldn't hurt.

Oak disposal is different than Bay Laurel disposal.  Oaks (other than Tanoaks) are not foliar hosts and they cannot infect other oaks with SOD.  Oak wood can be saved, set in a sunny location to dry and later burned as firewood (as could Bay Laurel wood, though I don't know how well it burns).  Branches can be chipped and disbursed locally or within the 14 designated counties that are experiencing SOD.

It is important to clean equipment used in order to reduce the spread of the SOD pathogen.  Guidelines for cleaning equipment such as chainsaws, clippers, chippers, boots, etc. can be found also at www.suddenoakdeath.org with their write up “Sanitation Measures to minimize pathogen spread” that can be found by following this link:  http://nature.berkeley.edu/comtf/pdf/Professional%20sanitation%20guide.pdf .

I recommend looking at the www.suddenoakdeath.org site to educate yourselves further about SOD.  I am simply passing along information that I have found on that and other reputable sites.