Winter2013-Help4DroughtTrees

Arborists Newsletter

By: Tony Arnoldi, Board Certified Master Arborist WI-0102B

The big concern arborists have is what the extent of reaction to the great heat and drought of 2012 will be. Efforts to mitigate, ease, and compensate this reaction will increase the survival rate and reduce the loss of roots and crown that would occur otherwise.

Pruning is helpful in this effort. In addition to increasing tree health through a carefully considered Crown Cleaning Pruning that a certified arborist can do, this same pruning can reduce the tree’s demand for energy, water and nutrients. Branches that are diseased, infested, damaged, rubbing, etc. necessitates the tree to devote resources to them - detracting from the energy needed by the tree for basic life functions. This energy is even more limiting during drought conditions. Removing these kinds of branches has a lasting beneficial effect for years to come. Healthy branches make food (energy) for the tree and should not be removed during drought.

Heat and Drought reduces the fine root mass immediately. Branch death follows and will likely continue, and could easily initiate a decline spiral. Decline spirals are notorious for continuing until the tree is dead, deformed or rendered too compromised. Proper pruning along with watering can play a role to help interrupt this decline tendency and save a valuable shade tree from having to be removed or from losing health or stature.

All of the methods that help ease drought stress and damage should be employed and are listed here:

  • Pruning to increase health and preserve energy (as described above).
  • Applying mulch over the root system to conserve moisture and create an environment that promotes feeder root replacement.
  • Watering widely beneath the tree once per week, giving (at least) one inch per week will help the tree retain roots and help the tree maintain its life functions.
  • Spring Fertilization including root biostimulants will help restore lost vigor by supplying needed nutrients and promoting feeder root replacement.
  • Mycorrhizal root inoculations (beneficial symbiotic fungi) are especially useful for increasing drought tolerance by increasing nutrient and water uptake.
  • Compost Tea root zone injection will increase beneficial soil life to help restore the root rhizosphere and the soil food web. This also will increase the performance of the root system and drought tolerance.

Certified Arborists are able to assess the conditions of each of your trees and help determine the best management plan. Take advantage of the knowledge, training and experience that your Certified Arborist brings to help you and your landscape.

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