The cattle in this bucolic photo have pushed through the fences on this farm a half dozen times in the last week in search of better food sources. The pastures on this farm have largely burned out in the drought and they are mostly being fed the hay that was cut in the spring that is usually reserved for use as winter fodder. This sort of thing is happening rural areas all through the province. It is a very serious issue for our farmers. Recent rains may help grass green up and allow peaches and apples to fatten a bit more, but the plants are still in distress.
Translate this drought stress back into the city and our trees are under huge pressure. We are already seeing trees that were troubled for other reasons die. These are the sort of trees that might have stumbled through the season if there was adequate rainfall, but under pressure they have no ability to cope. Healthy trees will have experienced root loss that may take another full season of good conditions to rebuild.
We were planting trees in an irrigated landscape earlier this week and at the depth the rootball was going in, the soils were bone dry. Irrigation can actually mask a deeper problem. It would actually take weeks of drenching rains to wet the soils at a level that makes a difference for trees and we can’t count on that event. We will likely be standing in landscapes two years from now with people wondering what is wrong with their tree and the answer will be the growing conditions this year. Let us help you not be that client. Now is the time to talk to your arborist about measures that can be taken to improve plant health.
-Richard Eaton, Soil & Plant Health Specialist