The Brutal West Texas Heat and Extreme Drought is Killing Our Trees
With the extreme West Texas heat and the arid conditions, we are seeing more trees beginning to wither and lose some of their foliage. That said, the extremely dry weather has added to the wildfire risk throughout most of Texas.
Interestingly, in Texas, most trees die during drought and not freezing conditions, although we have seen the latter during the last two winters. However, the Texas A&M Forest Service says "more tree fatalities occur during a drought because drought is a major stress on trees."
Two other factors figure into killing our trees, they are pests and disease.
There's another contributing factor we must all be aware of. When we have dry conditions, during the drought and the extreme heat those two factors invite all sorts of pests and diseases that begin to infect our trees as well.
The Texas A&M Forest Service would like to remind everyone to be aware of the critters and viruses that may be attacking your trees. Trees are a major contributing factor to our environment and we must protect them at all possible costs.
Furthermore, trees add to the value of our properties and homes. And during these extremely hot temperatures, they also offer some cooling to our homes, patios, carports, and to our pets and livestock.
Courtney Blevins, Texas A&M Forest Service Urban Forester says that “Most trees usually die from a combination of different stresses, one of the biggest stresses we see in Texas is drought. When that happens, stress build-up and secondary pests or diseases can establish in trees causing them to die.”
Source: Texas A&M Forest Service Press Release
Ultimately, it's the lack of water that causes the trees to die. According to Blevins, without the water, trees don't generate the sugars it needs to photosynthesize, thus making less sugar to make the food a tree needs to feed itself.
The best and most effective way to reduce the stress on your trees is by watering them sufficiently and regularly. We must also keep in mind that many county and city governments are limiting the amount of water we can use for watering yards, shrubs, and trees in the Lone Star State.
Keep in mind that when watering a tree you must water what is called "the canopy" of the tree (the shaded area of the tree) and not just at the base where the tree enters the ground. I recommend that you add some tree food and or fertilizers.
Finally, it's best to water in the evening or just after dark to avoid the evaporation of the water or moisture. Before you start watering be sure to check with your local city or county officials for watering restrictions.