Tree Hazard: Sudden Branch Drop
July 26, 2016
Without warning a large, heavy branch suddenly falls from the shade tree in your front yard, damaging your home. Up until this point, you didn’t realize something was wrong with your tree. Sudden Branch Drop is becoming a growing hazard in trees across Dallas-Ft. Worth this summer. We’ve seen this hazard becoming more of an issue in the Dallas & Fort Worth areas during the summer heat. Why and what causes it?
While heavy spring rains have been helpful for reducing drought conditions, if not at least temporarily, they have also caused some unfortunate problems for your trees. Nutrient deficiencies, caused by heavy water flow and runoff leaching valuable nutrients out of the soil; and soil heaving (which can topple a large tree) are just a few such problems. But there’s more...
What causes Sudden Branch Drop?
“But wait”, you say…”those heavy rains helped my trees put on a new heavy flush of green growth - that’s good right?” Well, on the one hand, the trees needed the water. On the other hand so much water coming so fast caused many trees to put on too much new growth at the end of their branches, such that the tree can’t support the excess weight. Especially once temperatures heat up to 100+ F and rainfall and watering stops.
Heavyweight: New growth on trees is generally a good thing. However, if the growth comes on quick from heavy rains, then the branch might not be able to withstand the additional weight, causing the branch to break. For trees that also bear fruit in summer, such as the Pecan tree, all the additional weight of foliage plus the fruit, has caused large branches to come crashing down.
Weak Vascular Systems & Branch Collars: It may seem that with all the spring rain, you don’t really need to water your trees this summer. But it’s just that combination of excess water, followed by hot temperatures and no rain (or you’re not watering your trees in summer), that can cause sudden branch drop. Once the extra rainfall stops, there’s less water flowing into the tree to support all that heavy new growth it just put on. The tree basically starts to dry out on the inside and become brittle. This drying also weakens the branch collar (the area where a branch meets the main tree trunk). A weakened branch collar means nutrients and water have a difficult time circulating through the tree. This is also the spot where a branch will often break off.
Boiling from the Inside: Another interesting phenomenon, again the excess spring rain and waterlogged soils, is that your tree’s “blood” may literally boil. When the excess water builds up in the tree’s vascular system, it can actually boil during hot Texas afternoons. The tissue around it them seems to “explode”, causing branches to break off.
If you have large shade trees that have put on extra growth this year, it would be a good idea to have them inspected by an experienced arborist. They will be able to identify hazard branches, heavy overgrowth and other issues before they become a safety hazard or damage your property. Plus, no one wants to lose a beautiful established shade tree.
Water Like a Pro: It’s easy to slack off on summer watering when we had so much rain this spring. But again, sudden branch drop becomes problem when heat and dry conditions return after heavy rains. Be sure to provide supplemental water to your trees during the hot and dry Texas summer. Adding a drip system to your trees will help to supplement water that your irrigation system might not be adequately doing. Consistent watering can prevent conditions such as sudden branch drop.
For our smart tree watering tips click HERE.
Posted: July 26, 2016