Why Are Trees Losing Leaves in August or Early Fall?

Why Are Trees Losing Leaves in August or Early Fall?

Every autumn, we look forward to seeing tree leaves transform. But what does it mean when trees lose leaves much sooner? 

When leaves shed well before the fall season, something might be wrong with your tree’s health. One of our readers in Texas noticed, “Right before fall, my oak tree started losing its leaves way early. Now, it has lost almost all its leaves. What is wrong with my tree?”

Learn why your tree leaves may be falling early.

3 Reasons Why Trees Lose Their Leaves in Early Fall or Summer (June, July or August) 

Why are leaves falling off trees already?

There are three general reasons why trees lose their leaves early.

  1. The canopy is crowded. Some trees may have grown more leaves than they can support, so they drop leaves to conserve water in hot, dry weather. th
  2. It's a pest or disease. See what summer pest could be hurting your tree leaves. If those symptoms don’t match, check if a leaf disease is the issue.
  3. It's something in the water. Too much or too little water can cause late summer leaf loss. Check your tree’s moisture levels, and then plan the best watering regimen.

Don’t fret if you’re not quite sure which challenge your tree’s dealing with. Here's how to diagnose leaf drop on your maple, oak or ash tree.

Why is my oak tree losing leaves in summer?

Find out what type of oak tree you have. Live oaks naturally shed leaves in summer, so as long as the leaves are green and healthy, there's no need to worry!

But if the fallen leaves are discolored or look unhealthy, that could mean a pest or disease. Oak wilt is a common one. First, leaves turn yellow, then brown right before they fall off starting at the top of the tree. These symptoms call for an arborist.

If there are no disease symptoms on your oak, investigate other possible causes, like the tree's moisture level.

Why is my maple tree losing leaves in summer?

Your maple might be suffering from a petiole borers infestation or tar leaf spot disease.

Did you know the small piece that connects a tree leaf to its stem is called a petiole? Tiny petiole borers feed on that, which makes leaves break from the stem and fall off. Luckily, the amount of leaf loss is small, and the pests don't pose a real threat to maple trees.

Tar leaf spot is more noticeable. It turns maple leaves yellow, then black before they fall off. You can help manage the disease by raking and disposing of fallen leaves.

Why is my ash tree losing leaves in summer?

Anthracnose, a tree fungus, can cause ash trees to lose their leaves early. Moist, humid weather allows the fungus to thrive and turns leaves a blotchy brown.

Anthracnose tends to not be a huge issue for ash trees. Raking and destroying diseased leaves can help minimize the harm.

And remember, a tree without infestation symptoms may just need water.

Help your tree gain its strength back with this step-by-step plan!

  • The Tree Doctor January 5, 2018 >Hi Mike. This sounds like it could be a service berry or crabapple, but we would need photos to know for sure. You can submit photos to blog@davey.com. Talk with you soon, Mike.
  • Mike Joubert December 29, 2017 >I have a deciduous tree in my garden which drops all it's leaves by mid-summer annually but regenerates to full cover by mid-winter during which it flowers ( red slender small bunches which grow directly from the main established stems/branches) The fruit is a small hard green berry, which ripens to a reddish/black and is loved by certain birds---- barbits, lauries, thrushes etc. What type of tree is this and why does it behave out of cycle?
  • The Tree Doctor December 4, 2017 >Hi Karen. This is just because the trees weren’t ready for fall when the frost first occurred. We are seeing this happen a lot this year. It can also be a sign of stress, too, so just keep an eye on it next year to see if this occurs again. If so, we would recommend having an arborist come evaluate the tree. Here if you have any other questions, Karen.
  • Karen Thomas December 2, 2017 >I have a red maple that's in excellent shape, about 30 yrs old and for the first time, never dropped most of its leaves. They've recently turned brown from a hard frost but are still hanging on the tree. It's great because I don't like winter, but I'm wondering whether it's 'great' for the tree? Now, some began dropping earlier in the fall, but it remains quite full as of today, December 2. Can you tell me why this might be?
  • The Tree Doctor August 25, 2017 >Hi Joanna. Yes! Please send us a photo so we can make the best recommendation for your tree. You can send photos to blog@davey.com. Talk to you soon, Joanna.
  • Joanna Sperinck August 24, 2017 >We have a young maybe 5 yrs old tree which has now lost 80% of its leaves. In early August the leaves turned yellow and have fallen. We live in a limestone region but have had an above average amount of rain. I would attached a photo if it allowed me?
  • Pamela Morgan August 21, 2017 >"...grew more leaves than the trees could support...over-watered tree leaves can turn yellow and fall off." answered my question. I live in central AZ and have never seen more yellow leaf drops in August than in this year. (October is normal) I've also never seen more rain in frequency and amount in a summer than in this year, 2017.
  • The Tree Doctor October 11, 2016 >Hi Cody! Good question. Likely, it's because the cooler fall temperatures have arrived much later than usual this year. Or, if you're only noticing this one one side of your silver maple, it may be because of wind exposure. Hope this helps, Cody! Also, we thought you'd enjoy this map that predicts when the leaves will change in your area: http://bit.ly/1NPg2r2.
  • Cody Wilby October 8, 2016 >Why is my silver maple tree not all changing color yet
  • The Tree Doctor September 29, 2016 >Hi there, Hunter! So sorry to hear your willow tree shed its leaves a bit earlier than it should have. We believe there could be two factors that caused this to happen. The leaf drop is likely due to a vigorous spring growing season followed by the temperature spike and lack of rain in mid-June. Or, your leaves may not have developed thick enough cuticles (the waxy outer layer on leaves that provides protection). When this happens, leaves are more susceptible to leaf scorch or leaf fungi. If you have any follow-up questions, Hunter, send them our way at blog@davey.com.
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