The Dreaded Mulch Volcano
We typically start treating for Apple scab (Venturia inaequalis) in late March and treatments will continue through April. Symptoms include discoloration and defoliation of trees with leaves and fruit showing signs of dark brown spots. These symptoms occur in late summer to early fall but treatments must be applied now. This is an annual treatment and is best paired with accompanying health treatment. Not only are we trying to stop the disease for that growing season but increase the overall health of the tree.
This particular subject holds a special place in my heart and to that extent, not always a pleasant one. Mulch is seen on most commercial and residential sites and can be a great source of organic matter through its decomposition. It aids with water retention within the soil and keeps space between the mowers/edgers and the trunk ultimately protecting the tree. However, like anything mulch needs to be applied in moderation. That beautiful dark mound around the base of the tree might look great, it could very well be choking your tree. The build-up of mulch around the trunk and root zone area can introduce decay to the trunk as well as inhibit the root’s ability “to breathe”. The pictures below are taken in succession from finding a tree that was highly stressed. Pulling back the mulch exposed that the tree was buried from the start, the root ball was still constricted by the burlap and the ropes left on after planting. We suggest speaking with your landscapers about mulching and even laying mulch every other year to help with the budget. Pulling back the mulch from the trunk is easy and a great way to keep residents engaged with the health of their tree
Although trees can’t actually speak to us, I know.. bummer right?? We are able to pick up on some signs and symptoms when a tree is stressed or in need of a little extra TLC. A great way to proactively administer care is through the use of soil amendments. Our soil amendment is a treatment designed to improve the soil structure and functionality of the soil ecosystem. Soil is where a trees’ health begins; nutrients and water are absorbed through a trees’ fine root hairs located within the first twelve inches of soil. It is also important to know what is in your “soil amendment”. Some soil amendments, like traditional fertilizers, provide only a few nutrients; generally Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium. Although trees use these nutrients, applying excess when not required can be harmful to your tree. While nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium are important, they are not the only nutrients that a tree requires to survive. It is important to test your soils to determine what exactly your tree might be lacking. Even though the problem is the noticeable above ground where we can see, many of these issues can be addressed below the surface. Although trees are susceptible to many pests and diseases the best defense a tree can have is its overall health.
Upcoming Treatments-Rhizosphaera Needlecast on Blue Spruce
We will begin treating for Rhizosphaera needle cast (Rhizosphaera kalkhoffii) in May and treatments will continue through June. This fungus is notorious for attacking blue spruce that is already stressed or in poor health. The treatment is meant to stop the spread of the fungus which is located on the needles. The fungus infects the blue spruce from the ground up and the inside out like the image you see on the left. Symptoms include discoloration and defoliation of trees needles. This disease remains localized on the needles and unless treated will infect new growth each year. Come back next month for more on treatment options!