Forest Service can help with trees damaged by wildfire, drought
COLLEGE STATION -- The driest seven-month period recorded in Texas history occurred from October 2010 through April 2011 -- and it’s taken a toll on the state’s trees and plants.
How dry is it? To put it into perspective: Green plants normally have a moisture content ranging from 125 to 200 percent or more. But during severe and prolonged drought, the moisture content of live, woody plants can drop below 100 percent. This is harmful to trees and plants and often results in extreme fire behavior.
Texas Forest Service Entomologist Joe Pase said drought-stressed trees may exhibit signs of decline. There are a couple of tests that landowners can perform to determine whether their tree is dead or just dormant.
· Collect some small twigs about one-eighth inch in diameter and try to break the individual twigs. If they snap and break like dead, dry twigs it could mean the tree or branch has died. If the twigs bend and don't break with a snap, the tree may still be alive.
· Use your fingernail to scrape bark from a small twig or branch. If the tissue under the bark is green and moist, the tree may still be alive.
To be absolutely sure the tree is not dead, wait until the next spring to see if it sprouts a new crop of leaves.
“During times of drought, the best thing for trees and plants is water,” Pase said. “Homeowners should consider watering valuable shade trees (pine or hardwood) and other landscape plants to lessen the stress from drought and heat. Water the ground area beneath the branches in the evening or early morning. Without rainfall, watering should be done about every 10 to 14 days.”
Landowners concerned about the health of their trees should contact a local Texas Forest Service office or a professional consulting forester for assistance.
Read Entomologist Joe Pase’s report on drought in trees and plants.
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