NY Update on P. ramorum find ..... John Aguirre's recount, OAN

-----Original Message-----

From: John Aguirre [mailto:jaguirre@oan.org]

Sent: Monday, June 28, 2004 5:41 PM

Find in New York--

This afternoon a USDA APHIS official informed me that late last Friday (Jun. 25) USDA confirmed the presence of P. ramorum in a single Northern Red Oak (Quercus rubra) located within a 192-acre public county park in Nassau County (Long Island), New York. At this point in time, USDA has confirmed the presence of P. ramorum in only a single tree in this park. It's unclear how the tree became infected. According to the USDA APHIS official, Nassau County contains 340 garden centers and nurseries. But, none are in close proximity to this infected tree. The trees in the park exhibit a lot of stress, but they are not showing typical symptoms associated with P. ramorum.

This most recent find by USDA is a follow up to an effort by a private consultant, Mr. Zingaro, who collected plant samples from 6 eastern states. Some of Mr. Zingaro's plant samples, which were tested at Cornell University and subsequently by USDA, proved positive for P. ramorum. USDA subsequently collected samples from New York, Pennsylvania and New Hampshire; hence the discovery of the infected Q. rubra in Nassau County, NY. Additional information will come in next week  from other states. If P. ramorum is found to be established and widespread in several eastern states, then this will have a significant effect on USDA's regulatory approach.

This tree represents a significant find for me personally, because it is on a site in Oyster Bay NY that I have been sampling and studying since the late 1970ís.  It is a forested area that lost almost 100% of the native dogwoods to dogwood decline in the late 1970ís.  I was hired back then by the wealthy Schiff Estate family to sample the soils on their land, which today is a public park,  which would explain why the dogwood trees had died on this site so suddenly.  The scientists had isolated a fungal pathogen known as anthracnose from the leaves of the dying trees, but anthracnose seldom entirely kills whole trees.  My soil samples revealed the underlying causes of this tree decline- soil acidification, aluminum toxicity, calcium deficiency all caused by the cumulative effects of acid rain.  This is the real tree killer, not the fungus. 

So, when I first found sudden oak death in Northern California, I immediately thought of this site in Oyster Bay , NY.  The trees are stressed here in California as they are all over the east coast.  And they are stressed for the same reasons why we lost our native dogwood trees, now we are about to lose our oaks and other trees.  But again, the oaks are not dying from Phytophthora ramorum which has been detected in the tree in the picture.  The oaks on this site and on the West Coast are being weakened and predisposed by the cumulative effects of acid rain, soil acidification, aluminum toxicity and calcium deficiency.  The fungi are merely vultures. 

This effectively changes the definition of sudden oak forever as a tree decline complex caused by environmental stress as the primary factor.

This , for me, is an all to familiar story. 

Ralph J. Zingaro-Consulting Arborist

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