Recent weather patterns in Wisconsin have consisted of excessive rainfall and high wind patterns, resulting in thinner canopy sizes, early fall colors caused by fungal leafspot fungi that parasitized the leaves, or a weakened root system. All of these are indications that this year has been a stressful one for our trees.
Prior to the start of summer, we had approximately 18 months of very wet weather that kept the soil saturated. Saturated soil is generally good when it comes to trees, however, when water is in the soil for a prolonged period, oxygen begins to be displaced. This displacement of oxygen inhibits tree roots from breathing. If oxygen is displaced for too long, the roots will eventually drown and die. Those trees who have experienced this are left with a diminished root system.
We then found ourselves in a very warm start to summer, which in Wisconsin we know not to complain about. This dry and hot weather dried out the recently flooded soil. Our trees were desiring water but were unable to gain that water due to lost root system function from drowning.
Diminished root systems are noticed, by us arborists, through a delay in producing leaves. Some trees were producing leaves as late as mid-summer, while others were producing smaller than normal leaves. A delay in leaf production can also be caused by harsh winter climates.
Last winter, we experienced a Polar Vortex that affected plants such as Japanese maples, magnolias, and burning bushes, however, some generally sturdy trees showed damage on limbs, trunks, borer damage, and fungal infections.
Did you say fungal infections? Yes, we did!
Root rot fungus is caused by decomposers, that live within the soil. Their job is to decompose dead and dying roots, as well as any other organic matter. Decomposition is typically something wanted and needed, however, with the number of dead roots increasing this year due to drowned out roots, the trees living roots are being attacked by fungus.
When trees are weakened, the roots are the first component that must be restored for future growth. Here is what you can do to strengthen your tree roots:
- Root Biostimulants – is a treatment that is helpful in building fine feeder roots and root rhizosphere (the narrow region of soil surrounding the root influenced by secretions)
- Compost teas – is a treatment connecting the beneficial soil life to the root system
- Fall fertilization – is fertilization using soil injected iron that can improve color and reverse chlorosis (a lack of colorful leaves)
- FAC trunk-injected iron – is a treatment that immediately greens-up chlorotic trees
- Biological fungicide – is a treatment that simulates root growth while deterring root rot fungi
These treatments all encourage tree growth. As homeowners and businessowners alike, it is important to observe your property and actively seek out the right treatment for your stressed trees.
We encourage you this fall to prepare your tree for another stressful winter. Being proactive with tree consults, fertilize your trees in Fall, and pruning your trees in fall, will continuously reassure you, and your tree of their safety and well-being. Don’t allow your tree to become stressed today and contact one of our certified arborists regarding fall treatments.