Wednesday, September 23, 2015
Last year we saw the loss of a lot of trees from a combination of the quick freeze in November, and a long desiccating west wind in the spring, with little rain.
Why did some trees get through while others died?
Trees do not do anything fast...they build up health over time or they go through decline which leads to a process we call the death spiral.
You can not wait until a tree is dying, and then, try to save it. You have to be pro-active in keeping them healthy so they can withstand weather events, pests, drought and mechanical damage.
Decidua trees need to be well hydrated this time of year in that they are going through a process called reverse sink. This is a time period where the tree uses both the phloem and xylem to store as much nutrients in the root system as possible for the big push in the spring. Next spring the tree will need a root nutrient amendment, (NOT a high nitrogen fertilizer though), to insure the natural organic process is happening in the soil. This can be done by adding composted material around the drip area or dong a liquid injection.
Evergreens will continue to transpire through the winter. So they need water during the winter months. If there is snow and rain the tree will be fine, but months of dry weather are very hard on Evergreens. Being aware of that, and know it may be necessary to actually hand water them or use water bags to insure a slow release of water during the winter.
I also recommend adding root nutrients during the winter for Evergreens due to the fact that this is often their most difficult time of stress.
The point is to keep the tree healthy, so it can call upon its reserve system when a weather event creates stress on the tree.
Even though flocking looks pretty on trees, the freezing and thawing while covered in frost, damages the cell structure of the protective bark layer. If it is extreme, I will often use a leaf blower and gently remove as much of the frost as possible. For young trees it is important to wrap or use a cardboard tube around the tree trunk to prevent the bark from splitting, a process called sunscald.
For Junipers and Arborvitaes it may be necessary to wrap them with twine so snow load does not split them down, just remember to remove the twine in the spring to prevent damage during spring wind.
Any questions on your particular tree can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org