Climate Crisis = Tree Health Crisis

Updated: Jun 21

I wish I were being hyperbolic but I'm not. NOAA recently reported their weather predictions for this summer. The eastern USA will be on average 1F higher than average which sounds minuscule and is not. This is because the variation around that including anomalous higher than 1F swings, will also occur at a higher frequency than the norm. There is no norm anymore. The East will also be wetter than usual. These are perfect conditions for diseases so say hello to your favorite fungicide! Last years' winter had me on edge already about this spring/summer. I've condemned more trees to removal this season relative to all of last year because they simply didn't get a chance to rest. In the Knoxville area, we had a 2nd spring when we should have had fall/winter temps. This means the trees instead of going dormant and shuttling their resources to root growth and storage, they had to continue to fight active diseases. They spent some of their money last year, which they'd planned to use this year. The tree world is also experiencing economic stress. Their economics are around food and how much energy (food stored and made) is available for growth this year and making defense chemistry, and repairing old or attached cells. Winter is the time of year to build up soil resources that can then be used in the subsequent growing season. So, if your working hours are cut in half because winter doesn't start till December then you (or the tree) have saved less to use moving forward. At the same time bacteria, fungi, and plant-eating bugs got to enjoy a longer growing season. They don't need to rest in the winter so the longer it stays warm the longer they can be actively attaching plant tissues. So those oak diseases I treated for last year may have been knocked back by the treatment but so was the plant's ability to fight and repair. This year the pathogen which is only going to be knocked back not eradicated, enjoyed a better growing year and more opportunities to overcome the fungicide (or antibacterial). This is why I'm seeing more tree death. It's a double whammy of happier diseases and depressed immune systems. Terrible combination! So, I have reduced the life expectancy of my treatments. What used to last two years, I'll need to treat annually, what lasted three years, I'll check on that one too, annually. I don't want to put more chemistry in the world, so, I'm also going to experiment with using more types of beneficials to help the plant fight the pathogen AND to attack the pathogen! YOU can do a lot of good by composting and adding that compost to your trees. Keep that compost AWAY from the trunk of the tree by 4". Remember, compost is not mulch! Remember to supplemental water your trees during the dry hot spells. And do not add herbicides to your lawn if at all possible because chronic exposure will compromise tree and shrub health. Got questions? Please contact me. If this was confusing at all PLEASE let me know. This is too important to not be clear.


17 views0 comments