We polite Midwesterners like to talk about the weather. It’s an easy, neutral subject that’s usually banal small talk. I do it all the time, but often wonder if I’m being just plain whiney. This month, however, I feel like we have actually earned the right to gripe. June is not supposed to be as hot and dry as it was. My lawn is already going dormant, and my rain barrels were near empty. This June has been particularly brutal on new plantings! The atmospheric forces of strong wind, heat, sun and no rain have taken their toll.
This June 2017 we have seen a ton of these calls. Often, it’s the people who do spring plantings who have the hardest time figuring out what’s going on, they get used to a watering schedule when the weather is much cooler and the rain is more prevalent. However, the first week of hot, sunny weather and their trees stress because they haven’t accounted for the weather and increased watering enough.These calls also come from people who have planted in the previous year. Keep in mind that it takes a long time for a tree’s roots to grow enough to support it. Again, we find that people assume, because the tree looked great in the spring without supplemental watering, that it was good to go. On the contrary folks; keep a close eye on your trees for the first 3 years, and sometimes more. When it’s unseasonably hot and dry your tree will need some help.
If bad enough, drought stress can kill a new tree, but don’t panic at the first sight of brown leaves. Good news is, if caught in time your tree can recover. If you suspect drought stress e.g. sudden browning of leaves or some leaves are outright falling off, increase your watering and be patient. Your tree will look stressed for a while, but in time, they can re-leaf. (Sometimes, they won’t re-leaf right away, but might come back the next year, looking just fine.)
So, get out there and check the moisture levels on your trees and increase the amount of water you are putting on them, and prepare for the heat!
Horticulturist, Bentley Ridge Tree Farm