Steam used to fight sudden oak death

Scientists at Dominican University in San Rafael have unveiled breakthrough "green" technology to kill the sudden oak death pathogen by using an ordinary commercial steamer to heat soil to 122 degrees.

The researchers pumped steam into a soil bed covered with a tarp that lifts into a dome as the warmth rises inside, raising the temperature of the soil high enough to be fatal to the pathogen.

The low-cost steaming technique was first tried a year ago. Since then, it has worked under controlled conditions at the university's half-acre research site, and also at a quarantined nursery in the San Joaquin Valley.

Based on the results, the USDA has asked researchers to use their steaming technique at other quarantined nurseries in the state.

— Compiled by Staff Writer Robert Digitale from staff and wire reports. Submit items to

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