Texas A&M Forest Service explains the best way to save your timber throughout a drought

COLLEGE STATION, Texas – Solely mid-way via June and Texas has already seen excessive warmth and little or no rain this summer time, with the pattern predicted to proceed. The anticipation of dwarf can carry many ideas to thoughts from water shortages to elevated wildfire threat, however what do drought situations imply for our timber?

Drought is outlined by a comparatively lengthy period with considerably below-normal precipitation, often occurring over a big space, and Texas isn’t any stranger to drought. In line with the US Drought Monitor, in 2011 greater than 80% of Texas skilled distinctive drought situations. This drought killed an estimated 300 million timber, 5.6 million being city shade timber.

In line with specialists at Texas A&M Forest Servicetree fatalities happen throughout a drought as a result of drought is a big stress to timber.


“A stress is something that reduces the capability of the tree to operate effectively and develop vigorously,” mentioned Karl Flocke, Texas A&M Forest Service Woodland Ecologist. “Stresses are issues that may have an effect on development, nutrient uptake, the flexibility of the tree to photosynthesize and in the end the flexibility of the tree to defend itself in opposition to pathogens – issues like warmth, chilly, predation from animals, bugs and ailments – numerous various things.”

Drought alone might not kill your timber, although it might be the tipping domino of tree mortality and must be trigger for concern.

“Most timber often die from a mix of various stresses,” mentioned Courtney Blevins, Texas A&M Forest Service City Forester. “One of many largest stresses we see in Texas is drought. When that occurs, stresses construct up and secondary pests or ailments can set up in timber.”

Secondary pests and ailments are those who assault a tree that’s already harassed by one thing else, corresponding to a drought or a winter storm. Hypoxylon and most boring bugs are thought of secondary pests and ailments – apart from the Emerald Ash Borer, which assaults each wholesome and harassed ash timber.


When a tree is already harassed, then some of these bugs and ailments will improve and in line with Blevins, these secondary bugs and ailments not solely improve in the course of the time of drought, however for years after a drought or different massive stressor occasion has ended because it takes time for timber to recuperate.

Drought-stressed timber

So, what occurs to timber throughout a drought? In the end, the dearth of water causes timber to photosynthesize much less, or make much less meals, which ends up in a scarcity of vitamins wanted to outlive.

“Crops generate their very own meals although photosynthesis and one of many key elements of photosynthesis is water,” mentioned Flocke. “Water is important for the chemical reactions that create sugars, it is also vital to assist transfer the wanted supplies round within the tree and at last, to make the most of these supplies.”

With out water, a tree can’t generate sugars and can’t make the most of these sugars – a vital half for the whole strategy of tree development. When this, timber will begin to present bodily signs of the dearth of vitamins. Whereas these signs can differ from species to species, most timber will start to indicate indicators of water stress via their leaves.


“The issues to search for in your tree are leaves dropping or wilting, small or malformed leaves, yellowing of the leaves and browning ideas of the leaves,” mentioned Blevins. “Some species, like junipers, might completely brown out, shedding all of their leaves.”

Simply because leaves start to fall out of your tree, doesn’t imply the tree is useless although. For small timber, you may merely use your thumb nail and scrape among the smaller twigs – if there’s nonetheless inexperienced beneath, then the tree just isn’t useless. Inside a number of weeks, it might leaf again out. If you’re involved your tree is useless, contact an authorized arborist for knowledgeable opinion.

Decreasing tree stress

Probably the most useful strategy to cut back stress to your tree throughout drought situations is to present supplemental water – although the quantity and the way typically you water will rely in your particular tree and space.

“Watering goes to depend upon the tree; the dimensions, species and age of the tree in addition to the soils you will have in your space,” mentioned Flocke. “In case you have established timber which can be well-adapted to your location, it is very probably that they won’t want supplemental water in any respect. However I might monitor them to search for indicators of stress.”


Should you start to see indicators of stress in your timber and the bottom beneath your timber is extraordinarily dry, it is time to start watering. To check the dryness of the soil, you may take an extended screwdriver and stick it within the floor. If the screwdriver does not go simply six to eight inches into the soil, it is time to water.

“Begin by watering the realm across the cover of the tree,” mentioned Flocke. “Not simply on the base of the tree and never simply across the fringe of the dripline however water the whole space beneath the cover of the tree till the purpose the place you will have water begin pooling and operating off the floor.”

Watering will be performed with a water hose, soaker hose, sprinkler or bucket – every manner being environment friendly as long as the tree is getting the water it wants. guideline for the quantity of water your tree wants is 2 to 3 gallons per one inch trunk diameter.

In line with Blevins, a common rule of thumb for newly planted timber in the course of the warmth of the summer time is to water them as much as 3 times per week, within the absence of precipitation. Although, you need to ensure that the soil just isn’t fully saturated with water always.


Bigger, established timber might not want a lot water in any respect however extraordinarily excessive temperatures and lack of precipitation might warrant watering them each couple of weeks.

When watering your timber, adhere to any water use restrictions you will have in your space and attempt to maximize the water you do give.

“A very powerful factor is to keep away from watering in the course of the warmth of the day as a result of far more water goes to be misplaced in evaporation,” mentioned Flocke. “Both early within the morning or later within the night is one of the best time to water.”

A straightforward tip for watering timber throughout a drought is to attempt to mimic what a typical summer time seems to be like to your timber, watering each 10 days to 2 weeks and realizing that it is okay to not be on a set schedule – identical to regular summer time rain.

One other manner you may assist your timber handle drought stress is by mulching. Mulch is a simple and cheap possibility to assist your timber as a result of it conserves water, regulates soil temperatures, reduces competitors from different vegetation and improves soil well being.


“Typically, apply a layer of mulch not more than two to 3 inches deep,” mentioned Flocke. “In actuality, the whole space beneath the cover might be mulched, however mulching out a number of ft across the base of the tree, being positive to not let the mulch contact the bottom of the trunk, will assist.”

avoiding tree stress

Throughout occasions of drought, be extraordinarily cautious to not add further stresses to your tree, making them extra prone to secondary bugs and ailments. First, don’t prune your timber except completely vital.

“What you are attempting to do is cut back stress to the tree, so pruning, even when you need to, is including stress since you are wounding the tree,” mentioned Blevins. “Should you’re pruning out dwell branches or dwell leaf areas of the tree, you are eradicating meals and the positioning the place the tree’s root development hormone is developed, affecting root development and additional stressing the tree at a time the place it is already too harassed ”


In line with Blevins, the exception to pruning timber throughout drought is a totally useless department or one that may be a hazard to its environment.

One other frequent mistake that may be dangerous to your timber throughout a drought is placing out fertilizer.

“Simply typically making use of fertilizers with out realizing if there’s a deficiency is a very dangerous thought,” mentioned Blevins. “If there’s not a nutrient deficiency then it isn’t going to assist something and it could possibly truly harm issues and make the tree worse.”

Through the summer time warmth, and particularly when experiencing drought situations, monitor your timber for stress signs, including supplemental water when vital, and proceed to benefit from the values ​​that timber add to our lives.

“Timber present an infinite worth to us in our panorama,” mentioned Flocke. “Maintaining timber, particularly close to our properties, will help to cut back total vitality payments, preserve us more healthy and supply shade for the home. If we lose these timber, we probably lose advantages which have taken many years to build up.”


Additionally on KSAT:

Copyright 2022 by KSAT – All rights reserved.


Leave a Comment