Fighting a tree in the summer can be tough. The heat and humidity can sap your strength, and the insect population is at its peak. However, there are a few things you can do to give yourself an advantage. First, try to fight in the early morning or evening when it’s cooler. Second, wear loose, comfortable clothing that won’t trap heat and make you sweat. Third, stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water. And finally, don’t forget to use sunscreen to protect yourself from the sun’s harmful rays. By following these tips, you’ll be better prepared to take on your summer tree-fighting challenges.
How to Help a Tree Fight Summer Issues
Summer provides many challenges to trees, from heat and drought to attacks by other living things. Many things are beyond our control, but there’s a lot we can do to help our trees. Watering and providing good soil for a tree to grow in can help boost the tree’s natural defenses. Some issues, however, especially non-native invasive insects and diseases, mean trees will need more active assistance from us.
Like all other living things, trees can be susceptible to disease. Through many springs and summers, the rain and wind can spread bacteria and fungi from one surface to another. This includes the leaves of the trees in your yard. Bacteria and fungi can also reside in the soil, attacking roots. Whatever the cause, it’s important to know how to identify a disease, prevent it, and treat it, to ideally save your tree and stop the issue from spreading.
Throughout the summer months, there are a few things you can do to ensure each of your trees are healthy and ready for the summer ahead. Here are some tips on how to prepare a tree for summer to ensure it not only thrives this summer but for many summers to follow.
To better understand how to spot and prevent tree issues, it can help to take a look at those diseases and insects that are most likely to impact your landscape.
Common summer tree diseases.
Here are three common diseases that tend to emerge in trees in the early summer. Each has different causes and symptoms, but most of the time, telltale signs of common spring tree diseases are in the leaves.
Perhaps best known as a disease that affects crab apple, apple, pear, and serviceberry trees, apple scab is a fungal disease that can spread to both the leaves and the fruit. When a tree is exposed to cool, damp weather and cloudy conditions in the spring, as leaves are starting to bloom, an apple scab infection is more likely to develop.
You’ll first notice apple scabs in early summer as a dark splotch that looks like watercolor paint spreading on paper. Over the summer, the lesions grow and can eventually kill the leaves. Some leaves will also turn yellow in the process, but not all.
Insects can carry disease, too. Fireblight occurs when insects are attracted to substances that ooze from infected trees, and then carry that infection to other trees. Wind can also carry infection. It’s important to catch a fire blight infection before it reaches the trunk of the tree.
To spot fire blight, keep an eye on a tree’s leaves. Infected trees will have leaves that droop as though weighed down after a heavy rainstorm and will even start to shrivel. As the disease progresses they’ll turn brown and crispy, and the bark will begin to look cracked and burnt.
Oak wilt is a fungal disease that affects the water-conducting vessels of oak trees. The disease can spread from one tree to another through connections between tree roots called grafts. It is also spread further distances by small beetles, which pick up spores from infected trees by feeding on the sap that comes out of fresh wounds. They then deposit spores on the wounds of uninfected trees. This is why we don’t prune oaks during the spring and summer-fewer wounds, less chance of oak wilt transmission.
Although oak wilt can affect all native oaks, symptoms can differ. In red and pin oaks, the infection can spread quickly and is generally not treatable. In bur and white oaks, leaves will take on more of an autumn appearance, with some scattered discoloration and wilting. If we suspect oak wilt in white or bur oak, we can take a sample and have a lab evaluate it prior to making a treatment decision.
Common Summer Tree Insect Pests
When considering how to prepare a tree for spring, it is important to rule out whether or not insects have made a tree their home. Here are three common types of tree insects found in the spring.
Emerald Ash Borer
Going by the scientific name Agrilus planipennis, the emerald ash borer attacks and can kill all our native ash trees. With over a billion ash trees in Minnesota alone, this is an insect that has already created significant devastation for our tree population. As the infestation progresses, the ash tree’s condition deteriorates and branches begin to break. When it gets bad enough, trees must be removed to preempt them from failing and hurting people or property.
Emerald ash borers leave holes as they exit the tree, if you look closely you might be able to see small D-shaped holes. The bark over the larval galleries will die and sometimes split open, revealing S-shaped tunnels beneath the bark.
If you have conifers, ch
eck for signs of spider mites, which feed on the fluid inside the needles. Each year, multiple generations of spider mites appear, with each generation lasting 15 to 20 days.
Since spider mites feed on the oldest needles first, look at the most mature needles and pay attention to signs of speckling or flecking. As feeding progresses, those needles will begin to brown and can fall from the tree.
Pine Needle Scale
Pine trees are susceptible to pine needle scale, which can be found on pines, Douglas Fir, Spruce, and Juniper trees. Scales remove the sap from pine needles, damaging cells in the process.
When looking at how to tell if your tree is infected, search for white scabs on the needles and the stem of the plant.
Prepare your soil
Tree fertilization is an important consideration as well, and that starts with your soil. While many homeowners choose to aerate their lawns each year to keep turf roots healthy, trees can benefit from a similar but more extensive process using compressed air. While we’re breaking up the compacted soil, we can add an organic, slow-release fertilizer.
In forests, fertilization happens naturally as fallen leaves and other tree debris is broken down and decays. This process occurs much less in landscaped areas, meaning that your trees lose a bit of this natural fertilization cycle. Adding nutrients and organic matter to the soil can help provide your trees with the best possible soil to grow in, keeping your trees looking and growing great.
Vineland Tree Care is one of the leading tree companies in the Twin Cities metro area. If you’re wondering how to prepare your tree for fall, give us a call and one of our certified arborists will talk with you about yours and your tree’s specific needs. Or, request an estimate for tree fertilization or other work you’d like done. We can’t wait to prepare your tree for fall!