Tag: Trees

Fall Color of Trees

Who doesn’t love fall colors? Part of the allure of fall foliage is color variation. There are trees that turn red, purple, yellow, orange and brown.

Specific plant pigments determine individual colors. Foliage gets its normal green color from chlorophyll, the substance that captures the energy of the sun. Other pigments produce fall colors. Reds and purples are caused by anthocyanins, yellows by xanthophylls, and oranges by a combination of carotenes and xanthophylls. Browns are the result of tannins present in the leaf. Most of these substances are present throughout the growing season but are masked by the green color produced by chlorophyll. Anthocyanins are the exception and are produced after the chlorophyll is destroyed in the fall.

If you have ever seen pictures of New England in the fall, you have probably wondered why trees in Kansas usually do not color as well. This difference is partly because of the tree species prevalent in New England. Certain oaks and maples naturally produce good color. Coloring also is influenced by the weather.

Warm, sunny days and cool nights are ideal for good color. The sunny days encourage photosynthesis and, thus, sugar accumulation in the leaves. As fall progresses, each leaf develops an abscission layer at the base of the petiole, or leaf stem, that prevents these sugars from being transported down the trunk to the roots for storage. This high sugar content in the leaves produces more intense colors. Cloudy days and warm nights prevent some of the sugar accumulation in the leaves and results in less vibrant colors.

Weather during other parts of the growing season also can have an effect. Heavy rains in the early spring or hot, dry weather during the summer can both have a deleterious effect on fall color.

The length of time a tree maintains fall color also depends on weather. Reds, yellows and oranges are short-lived when trees undergo frosts and freezes.

By: Cassie Homan

Planting Trees in Fall

The fall season can be an excellent time to plant trees. During the spring, soils are cold and may be so wet that low oxygen levels inhibit root growth. The warm and moist soils associated with fall encourage root growth. Fall root growth means the tree becomes established well before a spring-planted tree and is better able to withstand summer stresses. However, certain trees do not produce significant root growth during the fall and are better planted in the spring. These include beech, birch, redbud, magnolia, tulip poplar, willow oak, scarlet oak, black oak, willows, and dogwood.

Fall-planted trees require some special care. Remember, that roots are actively growing even though the top is dormant. Make sure the soil stays moist but not soggy. This may require watering not only in the fall but also during the winter months if we experience warm spells that dry the soil. Mulch also is helpful because it minimizes moisture loss and slows the cooling of the soil so root growth continues as long as possible. Evergreens should be moved earlier in the fall than deciduous plants. They need at least six weeks before the ground freezes for the roots to become established

By: Cassie Homan

Pruning Fruit Trees

If you have fruit trees, now is the time to prune them before the trees break dormancy. Fruit trees can be pruned through March as long as the wood isn’t frozen.

Pruning is important to maintain a functional structure of the tree and to keep the tree healthy. Pruning helps develop strong tree structure, increase sunlight penetration through the canopy, and control the size of the tree.

Watch this video tutorial to prune your trees:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VbKR4oE6Ylc&index=3&list=PL8AF47942719DD5BD

By: Cassie Homan

Protecting Seedling from Deer

Deer can cause serious damage to newly planted seedlings and young trees. When they browse the buds, they reduce growth rates, nipping the tree at the base can create multiple stemmed trees, and bucks rubbing their antlers on stems can kill the tree entirely.

Follow these tips from the Kansas Forest Service, to protect your young trees.

http://www.kansasforests.org/conservation_trees/careandtips/deer.html

By: Cassie Homan