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I have thinned out my scrub oak as a fire preventative, but I keep getting lots of runners. How do I control the runners?
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It's good you've thinned your oak for fire hazard reduction. However, Gambel oak reproduces by forming sprouts along it's root system (the runners you mention) that grow quickly to fill gaps in the canopy. This sprouting is actually encouraged by thinning or pruning. It is possible to reduce sprouting by applying glyphosate (Roundup) or triclopyr (Ortho Brush-B-Gon) to stumps, but since the stump is connected by it's root system to adjacent trees, you may end up harming remaining trees you don't want to remove. You also can spray emerging sprouts with the same chemicals, but again may harm remaining trees. Therefore, the best and only way to handle the sprouts, unless you want to eliminate oak from an area completely, is to mechanically remove the sprouts by pruning, mowing, digging, etc. There's really no other way. By the way, we have a fact sheet on Firewise Plants available at http://web2.ad.ext.usu.edu/htm/publications/publication=6278.
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