Damaged Leaves on Your Oak Tree? Could Be Herbicides.

Oak trees in Iowa are experiencing “oak tatters,” and it might be caused by farm chemicals in the atmosphere.

DNR district forester Mark Vitosh says this is a problem that’s been on his radar for two decades, but weather patterns have made this a bad year for oak trees. About a thousand people have called the DNR because they thought insects or diseases were to blame.

Vitosh says he’s observed these damaged oak leaves.

“In the spring when they were usually an inch to two inches long, the edges would turn purple and kind of whitish," he says. "I come back seven days later and that tissue would be falling off. Insects don’t do that, and diseases don’t do that.”

Vitosh says two studies show a correlation between oak tatters and an herbicide used on corn and soybean farms, but he says more research is needed.

On this edition of River to River, Ben Kieffer talks with Vitosh, as well as: Jason Clayworth, investigative reporter with the Des Moines Register, about his recent investigation into Iowa Lottery fraud; Carl Smith, professor emeritus at Iowa State University's school of education, about the Iowa Department of Education's recent ruling that some uses of seclusion rooms in Iowa City schools were in violation of state and federal law; and Tim Walch, presidential historian and retired director of the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library joins to discuss historical congressional hearings in U.S. history.