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Are your trees getting too much water? Fungal diseases and infections could be the tell-tale signs.

What Your Trees Are Trying to Tell You

September 25, 2014

We know our trees need water, but what happens when they get too much? If you experienced excessive rainfall during late summer, your trees may need some attention.

Since trees’ roots absorb water and oxygen, too much water in the roots may cut off the oxygen supply. This can lead your trees down a path to fungal disease or infection.

This time of year, be aware of the early signs of fungal diseases in your trees. Are you wondering what those signs may be?

Read below for fungal disease-related questions from Jessica Walliser and Doug Oster, co-hosts of Pittsburgh’s KDKA NewsRadio 1020’s segment “Talking Trees.” In this week’s edition of “Talking Trees,” which airs every other Sunday at 7:30 a.m. EST, Todd Sherbondy, district manager of Davey’s East Pittsburgh tree services, shares facts and figures about the fungal diseases to watch for in early fall.

DO: We had a good rain last night, but we were just talking about how all of this rain could affect the trees. Is that right?

TS: We will see a lot of fungal infections.  A lot of trees are dropping leaves this time of year, and bacterial infections and fire blight in pear trees are making a lot of fruit trees really struggle.

DO: What can we do about fire blight?

TS: There isn’t a whole lot you can do. Pruning is not recommended this time of year because of the risk of infection affecting other branches.

JW: What kind of trees besides pear trees do we see fire blight on? The tip of the branch turns almost black and the leaves turn black. So, what’s supposed to be done about that?

Pictured left to right: Jessica Walliser, Todd Sherbondy, Doug Oster

TS: The best thing to do would be to prune in dormancy; that way you’re not infecting other branches. We typically don’t recommend fertilizer. This is a cyclical disease--it occurs from time to time. A lot of times, this disease is not severe enough to actually kill off the tree, but it may kill a portion of the crown. Typically, it’s not something that can overwhelm the tree, but in some cases, it can.

JW: What kind of trees are you seeing fungal issues with?

TS: Everything right now, including oak and maple.

DO: If we are having a lot of leaf drop right now, is that pretty indicative of a fungal issue?

TS: Everything is dropping this time of year--it’s because of the excessive rainfall--and we are seeing those fungal issues. Typically, there isn’t much we can recommend to do, but you can monitor to see if there are issues with the root systems, such as potentially girdling roots that could cut off the nutrients to the tree. We recommend early season leaf applications time of year.

DO: I had two large trees that had to be taken down. Can I use the chip from my trees as mulch around other trees or a veggie garden? How thick should I apply?

TS: I think it’s a great idea to reuse and set it back into the garden. We would recommend letting the wood chips sit for a period of time to reduce the level of acidity in them because they can cause burning on other plants. Maybe 2 to 3 inches thick. Let the wood sit six months to a year and stir them.

Suspect a fungal disease has infected your trees? Davey can help inspect and treat them. Contact your local, professionally trained Davey arborist for a free consultation.

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