Description and Diagnosis
Bacterial wetwood involves a liquid that oozes and bubbles through the bark cracks and wounds, also known as slime flux, inspired by the slimy, foul smelling, brown appearance of the liquid. The prime wounding agents are insect borers, mechanical injury, and natural cracks and splits which are rarely observed. This condition is common in oaks, mulberry, sycamore, elm, ash and redbud. There are several common types of anaerobic soil bacteria (bacteria to which oxygen is toxic) which cause of this infection. These bacteria feed on substances in the wood, releasing fatty acids, methane and carbon dioxide gases. These fatty acids go rancid leaving the wood of the tree water soaked and foul smelling.
The gaseous by-products create a hydraulic pressure which forces liquids out of the cracks in the bark which turns brown due to oxidization. The bacteria do not cause any wood decay. However, the liquid raises the internal pH (alkaline) causing the infected wood to resist decay for a few years. Bark tissue will degrade in some cases.
Infection is thought to enter the tree primarily through root uptake, but contaminated pruning tools have all so been reported to transmit this infection. Slime Flux wounds do not close properly as tree tissue involved in wound closure are killed by the infection.
There is no satisfactory control for bacterial wetwood. It does cause die back of branches, but as previously mentioned the raised pH prevents and delays decay fungi from rotting out the heartwood of the tree. Inserting drain tubes around the affected area is no longer recommended. It only helps spread bacterial population within and create wounds conductive to the entry of other pathogens. As a radical effort and with some success with early detection of one or two wounds using a hatchet to expose the infection. Then spray the area with Ammonium Chloride, (Consan 20, a triple action microbial disinfectant), allowing the wound to air dry as oxygen is also toxic to the bacteria. Preventative measures such as avoiding moisture stress, proper pruning and adequate fertilization may invigorate trees. Do not disturb soil around the base of the tree to prevent wounds that the bacteria may enter.
ASIAN AMBROSIA BEETLES