Yesterday on the news, I heard the weatherman say that Northern Indiana is currently in a rain deficit of about six and a half inches since the beginning of the year. He also said that every day without rain will increase the deficit by about .15 inches... which means about an inch a week. Next week: 7.5 inches. The following: 8.5 inches. Nearly TEN inches of rain deficit by July 4th, assuming that this weather pattern follows. I sat down and talked with Jeff (our resident tree-expert) about the drought conditions. Here's what he had to say:
(Me) What happens to a tree in a period of drought?
(JEFF) It depends on the species, but all trees react to drought with no growth or loss of tissues, particularly roots.
Does this type of weather make them susceptible to insects or diseases?
Many boring insects (like the Emerald Ash Borer - EAB) attack water stressed trees. This weather is ideal if you're a borer! (Me: Insert joke about boring insects here! haha.)
Are there some trees that I should be more worried about?
Dogwoods, Japanese maples, flowering cherries, and birches need extra water in times of drought. If Ash trees are being treated for EAB, they must be watered. Also maples should have water each week. ALL small/newly planted trees need weekly irrigation.
How much water do my trees need? Should I water them every day?
The rule is 1 inch of water each week over the whole root zone AT ONE TIME. This does not mean laying the hose down with a trickle. It means a sprinkler head spreading as broadly as possible. This one soaking can be "gauged" by placing a bowl or cup under the tree. As the sprinkle delivers the water, the cup fills. 1" in the cup = 1 " over the tree roots.
Is there anything else I can do to protect my trees during this dry season?
Watch your trees and report any problems. Many trees yellow in drought. For most, this is caused by micro-nutrient deficiency aggravated by drought, but only a professional can know for sure.
What else would you like our readers to know?
So the main point to remember is WATER, WATER, WATER your trees throughout this dry weather. And just like with your family, never self-diagnose problems with your trees. Call us and let us take a look at them for you. We always give free estimates and we really desire to help you. We want to make a better future for all trees!
Jeff Ling is a Registered Consulting Arborist and Co-Founder of TreeMasters, Inc., a full service arbor-care company, located in Fort Wayne, Indiana. It services tree owners with scientific tree management services throughout Indiana, southern Michigan and western Ohio.