Trench Inserts as Long-term Barriers to Root Transmission for Control of Oak Wilt
Physical and chemical barriers to root penetration and root grafting across trenches were evaluated for their effectiveness in improving trenches as barriers to root transmission of the oak wilt fungus in live oaks. Four trench insert materials were tested, including water-permeable Typar and Biobarrier, and water-impermeable Geomembranc of two thicknesses. Systemic fungicide treatments of trees immediately outside of trenches also were tested. In the first several years following trench installation, an abundance of small adventitious roots commonly formed from roots sevcrcd by trenching. These roots provided opportunities for initiation of root grafts across trenches in subsequent years. Although trench inserts did not significantly improve trenches during the first 3 years following trench installation, water-permeable inserts did effectively improve the performance of trenches beyond the third posttrenching year, when trenches are normally effective, and extended trench longevity indefinitely. The water-permeable inserts were more effective root barriers because they did not direct root growth from the point of root contact. The water-impermeable materials, however, did tend to direct root growth around these barriers, leading to the development of new root graft connections and associated oak wilt root transmission across the trench. The additional cost of trench inserts above trenching costs was justified in urban and rural homestead sites, where high-value landscape trees required more protection and additional retrenching costs were avoided.