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The original item was published from 8/30/2013 11:41:00 AM to 9/21/2013 12:05:02 AM.

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Posted on: August 30, 2013

[ARCHIVED] The Drought's Negative Effect on Our Trees

We need your help!The lack of rain for weeks and recent high temperatures are putting stress on our street trees. These trees are a valuable resource to the community and are in need of your help especially newly planted trees in along city right of ways. As a general rule of thumb trees are fairly drought resistant. Their root systems spread wide and infiltrate the topsoil to varying depths, depending on the soil and the species. It takes several years of continuous drought conditions to cause serious or permanent damage to a healthy tree.

What trees are most at risk?Trees that are most at risk are those that have been planted in the last couple of years. Newly planted trees suffer “transplant shock” the process of removing a tree from a nursery bed causes a loss of roots and it takes several years for the tree to replace them. During this period a drought can lead to top dieback as the tree tries to balance out water loss through the leaves via photosynthesis and transpiration with uptake from a limited root system. A prolonged or severe drought can also lead to problems as the tree become more susceptible to insect pests which can cause defoliation or in some cases death.

So what can you do?Those with newly planted trees have it somewhat easier. These trees need a good soaking once a week. Again, you need to thoroughly soak the soil in the root zone. Depending on the soil type and how fast the water will infiltrate and move through the soil will determine how much you need to apply but a general rule of thumb is to turn you hose on low and place the nozzle in the mulch at the base of the tree (you did mulch your trees right!) and let it run for several hours. You will probably still lose some leaves and maybe even some branches but this will prevent the worst of the damage.

If you have questions, please contact Tony Steiner, City Forester, Tony Steiner, City Planner-City Forester, at(715) 426-3424 or email tsteiner@rfcity.org . Your help is greatly appreciated.

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