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JenREES 5/15/22

I heard many say they’d never before seen that kind of wall of dirt that came through with the storm last week; I hadn’t either. Also can’t remember a spring where we’ve had this much wind and significant storms to have so many pivots needing replaced. In spite of the property damage, grateful to hear most share they were ok in spite of the scary situations they were in when the storm hit!

Tree Wind Damage: Heard a number of people had tree damage in addition to all the visible damage in York and other areas. For those with large branches down, it will be helpful for the life of the tree to get branches trimmed back to the next larger branch or the trunk. Corrective pruning can help with trees that lost less than 50% of their branches (and don’t have additional issues such as significant decay). The pruning should be done to balance the limbs on all sides of the tree canopy (crown). Cut at the collar area instead of flush to the trunk to aid the tree in healing. Cut large limbs in stages. With one cut, a branch often breaks before it’s completely cut, causing damage to the tree bark. Instead, as explained by K-State, “take a cut around 15” from the trunk. Start from the bottom and cut one-third of the way up through the limb. Make the second cut from the top down but start 2 inches further away from the trunk than the first. The branch will break away as you make the second cut. The third cut, made at the collar area, removes the stub that is left.” 

Cedar tree dying due to both environmental damage and weed barrier choking.

Sudden Tree Death in Windbreaks: Received a number of calls about evergreen trees that were suddenly dying, particularly in windbreaks. Anytime this happens, it’s due to some environmental and/or cultural problem. We most likely are going to see lots of tree and shrub issues this year due to the dry fall, winter, spring and the fact that we didn’t have snow cover. Trees rapidly dying right now are most likely due to the dry conditions and/or a combination of those conditions with my next comments.

A cultural example that I see aiding in the cause of tree death is landscape fabric/weed barrier. For example, (from my experience) the #1 cause of death I see of cedar tree windbreaks that are usually in the 10-20 year range, is when landscape fabric was used as weed barrier between the tree plantings.

So why does the fabric cause an issue? Often the original hole size doesn’t necessarily expand with the tree trunk as it expands. Getting under the tree (which is a pain with the pokey fallen needles!), one can often see how the tree is choked right where the fabric is and then the trunk flares right above that point, indicating the choking point. For trees that haven’t died, taking some type of long-handled tool that has a hook or something to pull the fabric away from the trees in several places around each tree can help. And honestly, if anyone reading this has a windbreak with landscape fabric, it would be wise to do this regardless if any trees are dying to potentially avoid future distress. I realize weed barrier is typically used with windbreak plantings. Research has shown that just planting grass between the trees (or leaving grass between the trees), while resulting in a natural weed barrier, causes trees to grow more slowly. It is an option though for weed control. Another option is using some type of mulch around the trees (but not against the trunk). I realize in the country, it can blow away more easily, but is another option that provides weed control.

Sickly looking evergreen trees could be due to a combination of things such as the dry conditions plus a disease/insect issue from previous years. I’ve seen several of these as well where they look sick, but aren’t rapidly dying. In those cases, it’s important to reduce the stress to the tree and be aware of the specific insect/disease problem for treatment.

Cutworms: As corn emerges, be scouting for cutworms. More info: https://go.unl.edu/a6fy.

BQA Training: Face to face BQA and BQA Transportation training for livestock producers is on May 18, 4:00 p.m.-6:00 p.m., Casey’s Building, Albion, NE. RSVP to Brad Schick at: 308-632-1230.

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