Root Rots Follow Droughts

By: Dave Scharfenberger, Board Certified Master Arborist WI-0131B

Summer 2008 Newsletter in Adobe PDF format The prolonged duration of saturated soils this spring was bad for your trees.

Last year’s dry weather is looking good right now, given how many people had significant flood damage, or if you did not have damage, then how many mosquitoes are in your yard! The prolonged duration of saturated soils we had this spring was not only bad for your basement but for your trees, too.

Having several previous years of extremely dry conditions followed by this soaking wet period is the worst possible combination for some trees. The drought weakened the root systems and now root rot fungi, laying dormant in the soil, can take advantage of these conditions.

Not all trees are negatively impacted. Many healthy trees will be just fine and can tolerate the conditions. Weak and struggling trees will be susceptible to infection and decline. The decline may not be seen right away. It may take months or even seasons for crown symptoms to show up.

The most obvious signs are mushrooms growing under the tree or fungal conks on the base. Symptoms can include leaf yellowing, leaf scorch, undersized leaves, crown thinning, crown dieback or loose bark at the base. The critical danger can be losing support roots that hold the tree up in the wind! In some instances, the roots can be compromised enough that a tree needs to be removed even though there are limited crown symptoms.

Treatment can be a challenge because the infected areas are under the soil. Air excavation of the root collar, or fungicide treatments to the root collar or root system, may be important. Watering when the soil dries out is needed because the tree will have less of a root system due to the infection. Root stimulants may also be prescribed to help grow back the root system.

Having an experience Certified Arborist inspect your trees can be critical to receiving a proper diagnosis and management plan.

© Copyright 2008 – Wachtel Tree Science & Service, Inc.

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