This past spring many trees were not able to produce much foliage at all. Many produced nothing but seeds at first, and when these ripened all you could see was brown. Such trees seemed more dead than alive. Later on, some foliage started to be produced, but these leaves were undersized, off-color, and left the tree much thinner than normal. On other trees, some sections never did leaf out and the remaining parts look weak.
Trees that have treatment history for various problems, and have been stable for some time, have begun to struggle again. Dead and weak trees are everywhere.
The main reason for this is the continued and cumulative stress of year after year of rainfall shortages. Over the last ten years rainfall has been below normal. Deep soil moisture was depleted years ago and trees are deriving water from the top 2 to 8 inches only. When this dries up the trees are under extreme stress. And it does dry up quite easily.
Even trees that are in fairly well watered yards did not escape completely. Water from wells and municipal sources is even harder and more alkaline than our soil, and is therefore not as easy for the trees to use as rainwater. Even so, supplemental watering must be done in order to save our trees.
The watering recommendation for trees has always been to water the entire area under the dripline. However, in extended drought situations, this is proving to not be enough. Consider the configuration of a trees root system. It is extremely shallow and spreads out to 3 to 4 times the height of the tree in all directions! Many people do not realize this and water very limited areas of the dripline area. All of the roots well beyond the dripline never benefit from the watering and if they stay dry too long they die. This has been happening steadily and has meant more crown dieback and dead trees. We must water more widely so as to save more of the root system.
Drought plays a major contributing stress to the decline spiral. If a tree dies, it is usually the result of several contributing stresses acting over an extended period. Insect attack, poor pruning or pruning neglect, soil compaction and disease infection are some of the factors combining with drought to cause decline and eventual death. Wood boring insects and root rot fungi are especially prevalent, taking advantage of weakened trees.
The way to recovery must utilize proper watering methods. It must also include efforts to restore lost feeder roots. Root biostimulants, mycorrhizal root inoculations and specialized fertilizations provide this help. Don’t let your trees feel the full effects of this damage, call us so we can show you what the best program is.