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Newsletter

The Blizzard of 2010

blizzard-MD
The blizzards of 2009-2010 blanketed all of Maryland with at least 65+ inches of snow. Ski resorts are rejoicing over Mother Nature’s powerful forces, but others are not as joyous. The snow was everywhere. Finding a place to put the accumulating snow was a major challenge for everyone, even for our trees and shrubs. Many trees suffered obvious damage to their canopies from the weight of the snow followed by 45mph wind gusts. Limbs were sheered from trees, while others were pushed out of the ground. Trees that managed to stay upright are left with varying levels of damage, which will need to be addressed this growing season for safety and for the health of the trees.

This type of storm damage can be helpful in that it aids in the pruning process (removal of dead, dying and diseased limbs and trees), however, the problem with this pruning practice is that Mother Nature doesn’t use a chainsaw.While a chainsaw provides a clean cut, the storms create a mess not only on the ground, but in the trees’ canopies as well. Jagged branch stubs, cracked, fractured and severely bent limbs not only become hazardous over time, but can reduce our trees’ health if left unattended. Jagged wounds left behind on a broken limb are much greater in area than if the same limb were cut properly with a saw. It takes more energy to compartmentalize or heal a wound that has large amounts of surface area. This increases the time and energy needed to heal the wound, which increases the tree’s vulnerability to insects, disease and decay.

While five feet of snow is not enough to cover our trees, it is enough to cover our shrubs (and for about a month at that). Since the snow has melted and exposed our shrubs we are reminded that we still have a landscape to deal with this growing season. While inspecting storm damaged trees, the arborists at Wood Acres have been noticing a lot of damage to shrubs and especially to the older ones growing under gutters. Their stiff, woody stems are no match for falling snow and ice from the rooftops. The damage could be very subtle to fairly obvious, and will continue to arise throughout this growing season as the plants’ requirements for moisture are not met due to a broken limb or trunk.

With all of this damage to our trees and shrubs, stress on the plants has increased. We are expecting a lot of stress this year due to the damage that the snow has caused. This stress leads to the attraction of insects, which is detrimental to the health and safety of landscape trees and shrubs. It will be important to have our skilled plant health care staff on your property, inspecting and identifying potential issues as they arise. We can then discuss an appropriate plan to increase the health and safety of your trees and shrubs. If you suspect storm damage in your landscape, and would like to set up an appointment with your arborist, please call the office so we can begin corrective measures.

The Upside of Snow

While the snow that fell all across the DC-Metro area these past months has left obvious damage to the urban landscape, there have also been benefits to our trees and shrubs. The snow will benefit our landscapes by recharging the soil with ample water as the growing season begins. This record snowfall is something we have not had in our area for many years and is welcomed by the plants in the landscape. Plants use a large amount of water during spring as buds break dormancy and leaves fill in the canopies. In years when water was scarce, our trees and shrubs had to tap into stored reserves (savings accounts) to meet the demand and hope to regain the lost moisture during the growing season. If they are unable to recapture lost moisture then stress begins to add up, and decline in health is a result. This year, however, with the record snow, plants will have ample moisture for the growing season.

Another upside to a white winter is that snow acts like a blanket as it covers the ground, much like a mulch ring. The snow insulates the root systems and reduces temperature fluctuations which can cause the soil to heave. This expanding soil is enough to cause root damage. Tree roots serve to provide stability for the tree and also allow for the necessary transport of moisture and nutrients. The insulating snow allows for a more consistent soil temperature, ensuring a better environment for roots. The insulation of the root systems from the blanketed snow helps to maintain the plant’s health. So the next time you shun the large snowfalls think about their beneficial effects to the trees and shrubs in your landscape.

WANTED – Ambrosia Beetle

ambrosia beetle   ambrosia beetle damage

Ambrosia Beetle
Hexapoda (including Insecta) > Coleoptera > Curculionidae
Xyleborus xylographus

Photographer: Charles Olsen,
USDA APHIS PPQ, Bugwood.org

 

Damage:
Sawdust tubes produced by ambrosia beetles on a dead redbay. Multiple species of ambrosia beetles attack redbays killed by Xyleborus glabratus and its associated fungus.

Photographer: Albert (Bud) Mayfield, Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Bugwood.org

This beetle (stout reddish brown body with a hunch-backed appearance) is only 1/16 inch long and is expected to make its presence known in our area this growing season. It is attracted to a wide variety of stressed, weakened and sometimes even seemingly healthy trees and shrubs. Due to the number of species and their differing life cycles, we are expecting to see them throughout the year. Once a suitable tree is located, several hundred females can excavate galleries deep into the tree’s wood. This excavation results in the pushing out of tubes of boring dust up to an inch in length, resembling toothpicks along the lower trunk of the tree. As the beetles are boring into the wood, they are depositing a fungus they carried in on their bodies. This will not only become a food source for their babies as they mature into adults, but the fungus reacts with the wood and reduces the flow of water to the tree’s canopy. The result is tree death.

This is only one of the insects that will be out there making a name for it self this year and with their overlapping lifecycles it is going to take season-long monitoring and preventive control to keep it from destroying landscapes. Our area has experienced extreme weather in the past several years and with the added damage from this passing snow storm we are expecting to see stress. The Ambrosia Beetle will begin their flight as early as March and will leave their mark on 126 different species throughout the growing season. This is one of the many reasons to have a plant health care program designed for your landscape.

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