Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Emerald Ash Borer

The Emerald Ash Borer is coming!  That's the bad news.  The worse news is that there isn't an Ash tree around that will survive the voracious appetite of the EAB without help.  This means that unless you take proactive measures, every Ash tree in your landscape, yard, or woodlot will eventually be killed by this tiny, shiny, metallic-green beetle.  To date, the EAB has been confirmed in three southeast Missouri counties (Wayne, Reynolds and Madison) and more recently in Platte County in the Kansas City area.  The EAB infests a tree and tunnels just under the bark and in doing so disrupts the flow of nutrients up and down the tree.  Without the ability to transfer food and water, the tree dies.

The EAB is only about 1/2-inch long and 1/16-inch wide but is 100% deadly to Ash trees.

Photo Courtesy of MDARD

Using the state of Michigan as an example of the destructive power of this invasive species, EAB has infected and killed an estimated 15 million Ash trees since 2002.  The effect has been to permanently affect the landscape in much of the Wolverine state.  Most landowners don't realize their tree has been infested until it's too late.  Symptoms begin to appear after most of the damage has already been done and include crown thinning and death, usually in the upper third of the tree, and sucker sprouts appearing on the trunk of the tree below the height of the dead branches. 

There are chemical treatments available that will prevent your tree from being infested with EAB but the tree must be treated consistently to offer any benefit.  This option should be reserved for trees with specific landscape or sentimental value.  Finally, since the EAB feeds only on Ash trees, homeowners should consider carefully whether to plant any more Ash trees until eradication of the EAB is realized.  Without a source of food, control of the EAB population may be possible.

The Missouri Department of Conservation offers an excellent website to keep Missouri residents informed of the latest news regarding EAB.  Copy and paste the following link into your web browser now and check back often to stay current on this deadly, destructive, invasive pest.  http://www.emeraldashborer.info/missouriinfo.cfm.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Mulch is Good!

A few members of my team and I just returned from our (almost) annual trip to the Tree Care Industry Association conference and trade show.  This year the location was Baltimore, Maryland and the weather and trip were fabulous.  We all learned new tips we will be sharing over the next several weeks as time allows. 

Given the time of year, I want to share with you some of the information I learned while attending a seminar titled "New Organic Soil Amendments/Mulches for Urban Trees" given by Dr. Bryant Scharenbroch of The Morton Arboretum.  Dr. Scharenbroch undertook a study designed to determine the very best way to enhance the beneficial properties of the the soil after modern-day construction practices have left your landscape back-filled and compacted.  His ongoing study will continue to offer insight into the very best way to bring your soil "back to life" after construction and offer your landscape plants and trees the best chance of not only surviving, but thriving!  To review Dr. Scharenbroch's study, copy and paste the following link into your web browser:  http://www.mortonarb.org/urban-soil-science.html.

To summarize, the study demonstrates that the inexpensive practice of consistently applying hardwood and organic mulches to your trees will benefit them both immediately, and in the future, as they try to establish the kind of root system that will allow them to grow, resist disease, survive drought, and reach their full beauty potential.  Please continue to add 3-5 inches of nursery mulch, aged wood chips, chopped leaves, composted cow manure or the composted version of any of these to the area beneath your trees every year.  Remember that the root system of your trees expands about a foot annually so the more area under your trees that you mulch, the more beneficial is the practice to your trees.  Also, NEVER pile mulch directly against the trunk of your trees as this can lead to areas of rot that will allow disease and pests to enter your tree. 

Fall is a great time to work in your yard so GET MULCHING!