How did the Weather in 2016 Impact our Trees? Tips for healthier trees in the new year.
December 26, 2016
With just a few more days left in 2016, we know you’re already looking ahead to next year. But, if you take a moment to look at what happened to our trees over the past year, we can learn a lot about what our trees need in the coming year.
Trees are so valuable to our environment no matter if we live in the city, suburbs or out in the country. Trees clean our air, shade our homes, add beauty to our everyday life and help to sustain wildlife. With such an important job to do, doesn’t it make sense to be sure the trees you are in charge of are receiving the best care possible?
Looking Back at 2016
Winter of 2015-2016 was unusually dry and warm. Extended dry periods in winter put stress on trees already suffering from years of drought stress. Did you water your trees during the dry period? While it’s true you should reduce water in the landscape in winter, if weeks pass with no rain, you’ll need to offer supplemental water to your trees via your irrigation system, or drip hoses. Drought stressed trees are less vigorous and attract a host of pests and diseases.
Warmer weather in February brought out a burst of pests earlier than usual, leaving trees vulnerable to more damage. Preventative applications of dormant oil in January and early February can help prevent big pest outbreaks in spring.
A very humid and wet spring brought on early summer fungal diseases that weakened trees and made them more susceptible to pests and diseases. The heavy rains brought on sudden branch drop. Excess rain in spring caused a burst of growth on tree branches not strong enough to support the extra weight. Suddenly, the rain was replaced by high heat and no rain at all. This caused many tree’s vascular system and tree collars to weaken, bringing down heavy branches and causing an abundance of property damage. If your trees haven’t been skillfully pruned in a while, they’ll be more susceptible to storm damage.
If you notice a fungal conk on your tree trunk, call your local arborist right away. Your tree could be rotting from the inside, causing it to be a safety hazard. Heavy rainfall and storms can quickly topple a tree with inner decay.
From extreme heat and drought, to sudden downpours that made soils heave and uprooted entire trees, summer was extreme. High heat and drought in the later part of the summer only exacerbated the problems brought on by the spring rains. If heavy spring rain is present, be sure to pick up the supplemental watering needs once summer gets hot and dry. And consider late-spring, early-summer pruning to reduce issues with sudden branch drop.
Summer insects such as whiteflies and aphids also continued to multiply due to extreme summer conditions.
Fall was warmer for longer than normal - then we got a hard cold snap, with a return of warm temperatures. All of these temperature fluctuations can be stressful and confusing for a tree’s normal growth cycle. We saw some trees that should be flowering in spring trying to flower in late-fall and early winter. That means the tree may be using up valuable stored resources it needs for next year. Feeding your soil can help mitigate some of this stress.
That’s why we focus on Feeding the soil in fall. Healthy soil helps heal summer stress, makes trees more resilient to winter extremes and prepares them for a successful spring.
Here in Texas, fall is also the best time to plant new trees. Cooler weather, more rain and mild winters offer roots a great environment to establish themselves before summer heat sets in. The first Friday in November is Texas Arbor Day. We hope everyone planted at least one tree this year! Proper planting and first year care is critical to a tree’s lifelong success.
Look to the Future
To protect your trees, your home and your family, giving your trees the care they need before a problem arises will save you time, money and headache when the next storm or other extreme weather hazard approaches.
Happy New Year!
The Preservation Tree staff
Posted: December 26, 2016