Timing is Everything
Written by: Kyle Babicky, Board Certified Master Arborist WI-0899B
It seems there are two types of people when it comes to tax returns. Some of you had them filed weeks ago. Others will be rushing to the post office minutes before the deadline. I’m not here to tell anyone when to file their taxes, but I do want you to have your plan set early when it comes to the care of your trees.
During late winter and early spring, the Wachtel team is working hard to mail out your customized tree care prescriptions for the year. The sooner you return these letters to us, the sooner you can have faith that we’ll take care of the rest. Many of these services are time-sensitive and we want our treatments to be as effective as possible for your trees. When we receive your timely approval, we can ensure the treatment of your tree is performed at the correct timing.
When it comes to proper treatment timing, it isn’t as simple as following a traditional calendar. Plants and insects operate on a “phenological” calendar. This is based on temperature and sunlight accumulation through the growing season. For example, Saucer Magnolias begin blooming around 133 “growing degree days”. That could be anywhere from mid-April to late May in southeast Wisconsin depending on the year and your exact location. Wachtel tracks growing degree days and phenological indicators to ensure proper timing of your insect or disease treatments.
We also monitor soil conditions throughout the season. Certain applications such as fertilizer or root stimulant treatments are most effective at certain ranges of soil temperature and moisture. The timing of your soil being in those ranges can also change year to year and your exact location.
On top of all that, some applications are sensitive to daily weather conditions. Most spray treatments require low wind conditions, as well as time to dry onto your tree(s). Wind and rain forecasts vary wildly day-to-day, or even hour-by-hour. This often results in route scheduling needing to wait until the afternoon before being able to comfortably commit to safely spraying the following day.
So, while it would be much easier to say we will be performing Apple Scab treatments the first week of May, there are many factors determining the actual treatment window that is best for your tree. The best way to care for your trees this year is to return your prescription letters to us as soon as you can. That way, your treatments are ready to go when that proper treatment window arrives!