Spring Tree Forecast
As we move out of the winter season and into spring, it is important to understand how the changing weather affects your trees and landscape. There are many actions we can take to give our plants the best possible chances for survival, but Mother Nature is the one who is really in charge. Per the Old Farmer’s Almanac, the weather conditions for spring 2017 are predicted to be cool and wet. This forecast, piggybacking off a relatively mild winter, is setting up a season that could be quite favorable for insects and diseases.
Overwintering insects, like boring beetles, gypsy moth, and scale insects, have higher survival rates when winter temperatures remain above extreme cold (extreme cold is defined as temperatures below 20°F for more than 14 days in a row). These insects will overwinter in loose bark, tree cavities, and in the top layer of soil. Our SE Wisconsin winter did not see these kinds of temperature extremes this year which means overwintering insects can be expected to survive in above-normal populations.
Fungal diseases, such as Apple Scab, Rust, and Powdery Mildew, can also survive mild winters better than winters with extreme cold temperatures. Fungal pathogens also spread faster and more vigorously when spring conditions are cool and wet.
Because the 2016-2017 winter season was mild (average temperature: 29.7 °F, National Weather Service), we need to have a good plan for protecting our trees and landscapes for the 2017 growing season. Choosing the right plant for the right location is very important; the plant’s native range, the landscape’s soil conditions, and sunlight availability all affect a plant’s chances of survival. A tree must have adequate water and nutrients as well; fertilization and regular watering practices can help promote tree health. Remember that a healthy tree has a better chance of combating insects and diseases. Routine inspection from an ISA Certified Arborist can help to develop a plant health care program to maintain and improve the health and quality of your landscape. If you have any questions, contact your ISA certified arborist today.
Written by Tony Seidl
ISA Certified Arborist NY 5908-A
Hoppe Tree Service Operations Manager–South Division
Wood Decay in Trees
Wood decay is one of the most common problems in urban trees, and because decayed wood could threaten people or property, it is one of the most serious. The presence of a conk or a mushroom on a living tree is a positive indicator of decay, and therefore represents an increased likelihood for a tree or its parts to break or fail. Some fungi will decay the wood faster than others, and some species of trees rot faster than others. It is possible to generalize about the amount of wood decay when certain wood decay fungi are found fruiting on a tree. Decay caused by some fungi is usually limited in extent, whereas when others spread it can mean extensive decay. Decay of living trees is a disease, and therefore spreads. Depending on the decay fungus present, and tree health, the amount of decay may increase to a point where the tree may become hazardous. Most decay in urban trees is found without the presence of any wood decay fruiting structures. In the absence of fruiting bodies, we rely on other indicators to warn us of the presence of internal decay. These signs, cavities, carpenter ants, cracks, stem or trunk swellings, seams, and others suggest decay is present but usually do not indicate the extent.
Common Wood Decay Fungi:
Ganoderma applanatum, Artist’s conk
Common hosts - Maples, oaks, most hardwoods
Habitat - At the base or trunk of living trees
Mode of action - An aggressive decay fungus that decays heartwood and can kill and decay sapwood
Notes - Almost always associated with extensive internal decay
Polyprus squamosus, Dryad’s Saddle
Common hosts - Maples, elms, horsechestnut, and most hardwoods
Habitat - Usually from old wounds or old pruning sites on stems and larger branches
Mode of action - Slow progressing white rot
Notes - Decay is usually restricted to the area around the wound and fruiting body, seldom a cause for removal, but branches may have be tested for decay
Schizophyllum commune, Split gill fungus
Common hosts - Maples, lindens, crabapples, most hardwoods
Habitat - On wounds and dead areas of bark and cambium on the trunk or larger branches
Mode of action - Slow sap rot and cambium killer on weakened trees
Notes - Common on trees that have thin bark that have sun scald or that have done poorly after transplanting, once established on wounded tissues, it can also attack healthy bark and cambium adjacent to infected tissues.
What should you do if your trees have fungi fruiting bodies?
Property owners and managers should work with a certified arborist to develop an annual inspection and maintenance plan for the trees that will alert the property owner to structurally unstable trees and set forth how they will be dealt with! This forward-looking planning can avoid damage to people and property.
Board Certified Master Arborist WI-0556B
Hoppe Tree Service
Winter Tree Inspections
Why are winter tree inspections important?
The spring, summer and fall seasons are often thought to be the best time of the year to perform tree inspections to determine the health of a tree. These months are indeed a good time to detect insect and disease issues, however the winter (or dormant) season is typically the ideal time to examine the structure of a tree.
With the absence of leaves in the canopy, a trained arborist is provided a clearer, less obstructed view to a tree’s overall structure. This allows the arborist to more easily detect structural issues such as broken or hanging branches, cracks, wounds, and weak branch attachments. Cables and braces are also more visible, and should be monitored for loose or broken hardware.
Insect damage is often present and easily noticeable during winter inspections. While the insects themselves are not present during the winter, signs of insect activity remain visible. Some of these signs include borer holes, sawdust- like frass, overwintering eggs, and loosened bark. The dormant season is a good time to detect insect issues in order to prepare treatment or mitigation plans for the following growing season.
Trees and shrubs can also be inspected for frost and ice damage during the winter. Heavy snowfall, high winds, and frequent temperature fluctuations can lead to cracks in the trunk, branches, and branch unions. This can be particularly true for trees in residential landscapes, which are generally more exposed and isolated to the winter elements, than those in rural settings.
Even with the low temperatures and snow on the ground, the dormant season is a good time to observe structural issues in trees. Weak branches, insect activity, and frost damage are just a few of the physical problems which should be inspected on an annual basis.
ISA Certified Arborist IL-9196A
Hoppe Tree Service
Click here to see a short video about winter tree inpections on our video blog page
Nature vs. Nuture- Why some trees live longer than others
A mighty oak tree may live 350 years, while an aspen reaches old age at 35 years. Some shrubs like yew bushes can grow and thrive for 65 years while other bushes like purple leaf sandcherries are lucky to reach 10 years of age. As you can imagine, there are a myriad of reasons why some trees live longer than others. Here we will dive into a couple of the factors that influence longevity in trees, some factors are controllable, while others are built into the genetic fabric of the plant and can’t be influenced.
Trees and shrubs are not all built the same. Some species grow rapidly, putting their energy into getting established quickly and putting on fast growth. As a rule of thumb these species have shorter lifespans and thinner fiber cell walls. Thus they have a lower wood density and less strength than harder wooded species. Lower wood density means weaker wood, making limb breakage more likely in storms and high winds. Decay and rot can set in and move relatively quickly thru these fast growing trees. This can spell trouble for the tree, causing decline or making it more inviting for insects or disease to finish the tree off. Some of our fast growing trees with lower density and weaker wood include: poplars, willow, and box elders. When a storm blows through town, these are the most common trees that fail and one ones that our chain saws and wood chippers are most likely to encounter.
Longer lived trees allocate more resources into developing dense wood fibers, rather than rapid growth. When planted, these trees typically take a longer time to get established and often you wonder if they will ever start growing. Eventually they do, and often as the saying goes, “It’s worth the wait”. Trees such as oaks and gingko’s are prime examples of slower growing trees that have longevity. It’s rare to see these trees fail in storms and they are largely resistant to decay and insect damage.
Proper Care (Nurture)
Lots of things that we do to trees can influence their longevity, for better or worse. It starts with planting. Picking the proper place is just as important as how the tree is planted. So often we see trees that need well drained areas planted in wet locations. Planting at the proper depth and removal of wire baskets and strings holding the root ball together is equally important. Pruning is a big factor in a trees lifespan as well. Proper pruning can make a tree live longer, while improper pruning can shorten the life of a tree. Grade changes and soil compaction largely can go unnoticed to the casual eye, but over time can severely stress the health of a tree by weakening it’s root system.
Trees are a long term investment. Picking the right tree and practicing proper care will influence the lifespan of trees in a positive way. Hoppe Tree Service performs both planting and tree care. Our arborists can advise you on the best species for your situation along with aiding in proper care throughout the lifespan of the tree.
Certified Arborist WI-0477A
Hoppe Tree Service
SALT vs TREES and SHRUBS
Now that winter has set in many people change their focus from taking care of the trees and shrubs in the yard to taking care of the sidewalks, driveways and roads. Many people still use a form of salt to de-ice the pedestrian areas. Few people know or understand that salt can do a lot of damage to trees and shrubs.
Salt often times leads to permanent decline and in some cases death, especially with susceptible species of trees and shrubs. The challenge for an arborist diagnosing plant problems is the fact that salt damage often will not show itself until later in the growing season. It’s at this time that the plants are often stressed from insects, disease, heat, drought etc. Salt damage from the previous winter will first show up at this time. Over time salt migrates to the stems, buds, and roots of trees causing disfigured foliage, stunted growth, brown and or yellowing foliage and overall decline in tree health.
To prevent salt damage:
- Reduce the amount of de-icing salt by mixing it with an abrasive material like sand or ash.
- Don’t use salt at all, use calcium chloride or calcium magnesium acetate.
- Improve the drainage of the soils by using mulch.
- Erect barriers between pavement and plants.
- Plant salt resistant varieties of plants in areas of high salt usage.
- Keep trees and shrubs healthy through proper fertilizers to correct nutrient deficiencies.
- Control diseases and insect stressors
Hoppe Tree Service has been taking care of trees and shrubs for over 3 generations. Our certified arborists have many years of experience. If you have questions or would like some help don’t hesitate to call. We work year round and can assess your landscape. We will work with you to determine the best salt resistant trees and shrubs to plant and how to care for your existing landscape plants.
Examples of salt injury:
Written by Bob Gluck
Certified Arborist WI-011A
Hoppe Tree Service