All steamed up over fatal oak blight
August 15, 2012
A new way has been found to battle a particularly lethal plant disease called sudden oak death, which periodically plagues this region and can cause huge financial losses. The baffling and complex disease, it has been discovered, can be eradicated by the simplest of means — steam. (San Francisco Chronicle)
The disease, Phytophthora ramorum to scientists, also claims a large variety of other plants and has been the scourge of nurseries. It has nearly wiped out huge parts of Big Sur, Jack London and China Camp state parks, and watershed near Mount Tamapais. Until now, its only known treatment was application of an expensive phosphate compound designed mainly for treating infected trees in people’s yards.
The disease’s cause and eradication have eluded scientists for years. In 2004, Cal Poly Professor Walter Mark and forest health technician Amy Jirka launched a grant-funded study which the authors hoped would expand knowledge of the rapidly-spreading disease.