Trees want our help. Watering is the most important element for the trees. Watering the trees at the drip line area adds moisture where the absorption roots are concentrated.
The weather: 2017/2018 was a warm winter, with low snowpack, and a spring that accumulated less than .5 inches of rain for six months.
Then 2018/2019 was a cold winter, with high snowpack and a spring that provided good rains.
How do trees react to these changes?
Trees react slowly. Trees are one to two years' behind schedule. During that drought year, they were using stored energy, if they had any. Trees now struggle to stay alive. Our urban trees in our community suffer the most.
Some trees suffer more.
Aspen trees are failing and declining. They seem to have a short life span of 25-30 years. Single aspen trees brought down from higher elevations have a harder time adjusting to the lower elevation. Aspen trees are communal trees. They want to grow new shoots from their roots. These new shoots help support the community. One of the largest and oldest organism in North America is a male aspen grove in Utah called Pando. It covers 106 acres and Pando's roots system is estimated to be 80,000 years old.
With drought stress comes pests. Many suffering trees are infested with different pests.
Increasing the health of the trees will increase the trees' natural defense systems against invasive pests.
How can we help our trees?
Tree care is key.
Tree care increases the trees' health and vitality.
Trees want our help. Watering is the most important element for the trees. Watering the trees at the drip line area adds moisture where the absorption roots are concentrated. Water amounts vary depending on the tree species, size of the tree, soil structure and soil texture. Clay soils retains moisture longer than sandy soils. Many tree species decline when the soil environment is inadequate. Mulching the soils with wood chips and brown compost will add nutrients and soil organisms that complement the roots and soil. Some studies show that mulch retains soil moisture longer, keeps the roots cooler and promotes root development and growth.
June is one of the driest months with low humidy, high temperatures and low precipitation. We should add an extra day of watering during this month. Trees transpire moisture daily and when the air is drier and hotter, trees lose more moisture. Evaporation from the sun and wind adds to the loss.
Don't fertilize in summer
One thing to keep in mind: fertilizing trees during the summer season is not recommended. Fertilizers can dehydrate trees when air and soil moisture levels are low.
Water and mulch are the answers.
For questions, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Paul Bryan Jones is a certified arborist and a founding member of the Taos Tree Board.
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