I hope to never see summers like 2011 and 2012. Dry and hot! These conditions are not good for any living plant of any kind. Drought is a common occurrence affecting the health of trees in south-central Kansas. Property owners who notice wilting and scorched leaves (below) may wonder if trees will survive. Drought alone rarely kills well-established trees. But effects of extended drought, combined with other stressors, can be serious and irreversible. Lack of water limits a tree’s ability to absorb nutrients, weakens natural defenses and leaves it vulnerable to heat, cold, insects, and pathogens. In some cases, the tree may die.
All trees have natural protection from ordinary seasonal drought, and some species are known for their ability to withstand severe, prolonged drought conditions. Even for trees that are not particularly drought-tolerant, a healthy and robust root system is remarkably efficient at extracting soil moisture for survival. Problems arise when the root system is compromised by poor soil quality, inadequate soil volume or compaction, or paved surfaces. Poor horticultural practices render even the most drought-tolerant tree helpless when soil moisture is insufficient. It is impossible to control the weather, but you can drought-proof your landscape by following good horticultural practices when selecting your next tree. Continue reading “Trees and Drought”
Winter Garden chores are ongoing! The dormant season, late fall-winter is the best time to prune fruit trees as long as the wood isn’t frozen. Following are some general recommendations on pruning mature fruit trees followed by more specific instructions on each species.
– Take out broken, damaged or diseased branches
– If two branches form a narrow angle, prune one out. Narrow angles are weak angles and tend to break during wind or ice storms.
– Take out all suckers. Suckers are branches that grow straight up. They may originate from the trunk or from major branches.
– If two branches cross and rub against one another, one should be taken out.
– Cut back or remove branches that are so low they interfere with harvest or pruning. If cutting back a branch, always cut back to another branch or a bud. Do not leave a stub.
– Cut back branches to reduce the total size of the tree, if necessary.
– Thin branches on the interior of the tree.
Follow the steps above in order but stop if you reach 30% of the tree. Continue reading “Pruning Fruit Trees”
I like talking and writing about trees! I hope you find this column both educational and interesting.
Great Moments in Christmas Tree History:
- The use of evergreen trees to celebrate the winter season occurred before the birth of Christ.
- The first decorated Christmas tree was in Riga, Latvia in 1510.
- The first printed reference to Christmas trees appeared in Germany in 1531.
- Besides evergreens, other types of trees such as cherry and hawthorns were used as Christmas trees in the past.
- Using small candles to light a Christmas tree dates back to the middle of the 17th century.
- Thomas Edison’s assistant, Edward Johnson, came up with the idea of electric lights for Christmas trees in 1882. Christmas tree lights were first mass-produced in 1890.
- In 1900, large stores started to erect big illuminated Christmas trees.
- The tradition of an official Chicago Christmas tree was initiated in 1913 when one was first lit by Mayor Carter H. Harrison in Grant Park.
- The official Christmas tree tradition at Rockefeller Center began in 1933. Since 2004 the tree has been topped with a 550-pound Swarovski Crystal star. And since 2007, the tree has been lit with 30,000 energy-efficient LED’s which are powered by solar panels.
- Every year since 1947, the people of Oslo, Norway have given a Christmas tree to the city of Westminster, England. The gift is an expression of good will and gratitude for Britain’s help to Norway during World War II.
Continue reading “Christmas Tree Fun Facts”
We all know the weather in Kansas can be extreme!
Plants that grow in Kansas have to be tough. Sometimes it doesn’t hurt to help them along a little thought.
Many young, smooth, thin-barked trees such as honey locusts, fruit trees, ashes, oaks, maples, lindens, and willows are susceptible to sunscald and bark cracks. Sunscald normally develops on the south or southwest side of the tree during late winter. Sunny, warm winter days may heat the bark to relatively high temperatures.
Research done in Georgia has shown that the southwest side of the trunk of a peach tree can be 40 degrees warmer than shaded bark. This warming action can cause a loss of cold hardiness of the bark tissue resulting in cells becoming active. These cells then become susceptible to lethal freezing when the temperature drops at night.
The damaged bark tissue becomes sunken and discolored in late spring. Damaged bark will eventually crack and slough off. Trees often recover but need TLC — especially watering during dry weather. Applying a light colored tree wrap from the ground to the start of the first branches can protect recently planted trees. This should be done in October to November and removed the following March. Failure to remove the tree wrap in the spring can prove detrimental to the tree.
A hot topic problem at the moment is happening to peach trees!
Peach leaf curl is one of the most common diseases of peach in the state. Symptoms first appear in early spring on expanding foliage. Young, infected leaves become thickened and distorted along the midrib and take on a red to purplish hue. Later, as the fungus begins to produce spores, the leaf surface appears silvery or gray. Diseased leaves eventually die and fall off the tree. These leaves are replaced by a second growth of foliage, which rarely is infected by the fungus. Continue reading “Peach Trees”