The drought has taken a toll on cropland and pastureland across the state, but it’s also had a huge impact on trees, and not just those that are part of the timber industry, but trees in our cities and towns.
Many trees in urban areas are already stressed due to the human activity around them, and with outside watering restrictions in place, and the combination of a lengthy period of drought and high temperatures, a slow moving disaster was set into place that won’t be totally realized for some time.
“When that tree is really drought stressed, it’s having a difficult time keeping enough water in its system. Its roots are trying to pull water out of the ground and there isn’t any water there, and what we start to see is insects affecting the twigs and the branches, and then we see some diseases that can be very devastating, very common tree diseases, but they specifically work on stressed trees.”
Pete Smith is an urban forester for the Texas Forest Service and says he has been swamped with questions of how to tell if a tree is dead.
“Our general answer is let’s try to wait until spring, but there are a couple of tips I can give home owners right now to make decisions about their shade trees. If their bark of that tree is falling off, falling on to the ground, if it’s peeling away from the trunk of the tree, the tree is dead and can be removed.”
Dead foliage on evergreens is a bad sign.
“For our trees that are evergreen, like pines trees and our cedar trees, when they turn red or brown, there’s no going back they’re dead. They can be removed.”
Smith says to hang in there with your live oaks.
“Live oak is an evergreen, but it’s very different and very resilient, one of our toughest trees in the state, and it may look very thin. Its foliage may have dropped, say half of its leaves, but those are trees I would not give up on.”
I’m Bob French, looking at Brazos Valley agriculture, From The Ground Up.