Maple Leaf Diseases

The wet, blistering hot weather that we all suffered through this Memorial Day weekend has hurt the Maples this spring. Several foliar diseases have developed which cause black spots on leaves and leaf fall. Anthracnose and Maple Leaf Blister are the most common causes and usually do not warrant control. The weather has changed to cooler, drier conditions and these cosmetic diseases should be arrested as the season progresses.

Although startling, I seldom recommend fungicide treatments unless the trees are in prime landscape locations or are important or sentimental to a client.

I have seen a much more rare disease in Dane and the west side of Madison. Bacterial Leaf Scorch affects the entire crown of the tree at once as it is a Vascular Bacteria rather than a Foliar Fungus. This disease re-occurs year after year until successive defoliation weaken the tree and eventually the trees die back. This disease can be controlled with injections of Antibiotics.

 

2018 Newsletter

Everything our family business does depends on the weather.  Each year presents a new, unique set of conditions and challenges and this year has been no exception!

The year started out with the rainiest spring that I can ever remember with more than twice the normal amount of precipitation.  These continuously wet conditions were very favorable for fungus and mold disease.  When fresh leaves are unfurling in the spring, their tissues are very tender and susceptible to infection.  Last spring’s rainy weather resulted in the rapid advance of all foliar diseases.

I have never seen Apple Scab this bad.  Susceptible Crabapple trees were totally defoliated for weeks.  Although we have several options for controlling this disease, the best solution continues to be planting or replacing with disease resistant varieties.  “Red Jewel” and “Sargent” continue to be my favorites, although there are many varieties that are very disease resistant.  Most have tiny, persistent fruit that cling to the tree, displaying themselves in the snow during the winter months and providing a good source of food to our overwintering birds like Cedar Waxwings and Cardinals.

Most trees exhibited foliar disease of one kind or another last year.  Anthracnose and Tubakia Leaf Spot is rampant in Oaks. Tar Spot of Maple caused round black spots on leaves.  Walnut and Aspen leaves fell from the trees early due to fungal infection.  Many fall colors were less than prime last autumn thanks to foliar diseases. Fortunately, these infected leaves will fall from the trees and with a good fall cleanup, most diseases will not return with normal spring weather in 2018.

Spruce Needle Blight took a turn for the worse last year.  Four sprays during the year seem to help the trees to hold their own.  Ultimately, the best long-term solution is to remove diseased Colorado Blue and White Spruce and replace them with resistant species.

Mother Nature gave us a second punch last fall with a mini-drought during September.  Perennial plants that were not watered during this period went dormant early.  Watering in the fall is very important for trees and shrubs to encourage the development of dormancy.  This metabolic process requires a good supply of water as plants make the anti-freeze that is needed to survive sub-freezing temperatures.

The weather man says that we are going to have a very mild winter.  Many pest insects overwinter in the ground and without a long, deep freeze will become more problematic, especially with Japanese Beetles, Emerald Ash Borer and Bark Beetles.  Even native bark beetle populations once kept in check by freezing temperatures are now exploding to levels that are causing 90% mortality in Lodgepole Pines in the Grand Tetons and Sitka Spruce in the Pacific Northwest.  It seems that winter temperatures once cold enough to kill off these native insects and hold their populations in check may never return.  Mother Earth is becoming angry with us and our stewardship has never been more important.

As we continue to care for the green world, our family business continues to grow.  In my nearly 40 years in business, I have never had such excellent employees.  I am very proud of every one of them as we all strive to give our customers the high-quality service that they deserve.  Our extended family of customers continues to be the most important thing in our lives and we have a lot to be grateful for.

Dutch Elm Disease

Upon settlement, the American Elm was the dominant tree in American river bottom ecosystems. Adapted to periodically saturated soils with low oxygen content, these trees are very well adapted to the poor soils of urban environments.  Their habit of arching outwardly created gothic arches, elegantly shading the streets of our growing nation.  Many towns planted 100% American Elms in their urban forests.

A fungal disease from Europe was introduced to our continent in 1928 when Veneer logs were shipped to Toledo via the St. Lawrence Seaway. Shortly after arrival, European Elm Bark Beetles began to emerge from these European logs.  Spores from this vascular disease covered their bodies and were spread to the native American Elms growing nearby.  Soon, the Elm trees around the shipyard started to die.  If we had only known what was going on at this time, the disease could have been stopped.  These beetles can fly up to 40 miles per year so by 1989, 58 million trees had been killed across the Midwest and Canada.

Once infected, there is no cure. Branches from infected trees begin to flag, or turn yellow by early summer.  These trees completely die by fall.  A secondary way that the disease can spread is through the roots of adjacent trees.  When Elms are spaced within 50 feet of each other, root graft transmission is likely and there is no cure from this type of systemic infection.

High Value Elm trees can be protected for 3 years with a fungicide injection of “Arbotect”.  We continue to treat some very sentimental or historic trees for over 30 years successfully where all other trees in the neighborhood were killed long ago.

This story of global homogenization continues to be repeated over and over withIncreased global trade with no restriction or fumigation treatment.  Emerald ash Borer parallels this story in that infested wood in the form of untreated pallets or crating material was brought down the St. Lawrence Seaway, escaping into the surrounding Ash Trees and now we are in the midst of losing another highly dominant tree species.  Within a few decades, all of the unprotected Ash trees in North America will be gone.

When will we learn from our mistakes?

2017 Spring Newsletter

In this business, every year is unique and 2016 was no exception. We received twice the normal amount of rain during the summer months. Overall the moisture was a welcome change from the droughts of the past. New growth was phenomenal with excellent establishment of newly planted trees, shrubs and flowers. With a mild winter, all the plantings should respond with a burst of new growth this coming May. The rainy summer also favored fungus growth and even with the best plans, leaves were still knocked off the crabapples mid-summer. All in all, I would take excessive rain over drought any year!

 

Emerald Ash Borer continues its march across our county. Maple Bluff and Middleton are the worst hit so far with McFarland, Waunakee, Oregon and Sun Prairie close behind. 2017 will be the most important year to get the Ash trees injected with Treeage. The average seems to be that eight years after a county is quarantined, all the non- protected trees are dead. We will be entering year five. If your Ash trees are small or damaged the best advice is to replace them. But if the trees are large and you are over 50 years old like me, the best choice is to preserve them into the future. It takes a long time to grow a tree.

 

Japanese Beetles were all but killed off during the drought years of 2012 and 2013. We saw them return to moderate levels last year. Ample rainfall and good turf growth have favored the resurgence of their population. It would be a very good idea to protect susceptible plants with an insecticidal drench this spring. One application made to Birch, Crabapples, Lindens and Roses in early spring will protect them for the entire season.

 

For lawn weed control, granular products work the best during rainy years and liquid is best with dry years. We will continue using combinations of both. Fortunately, lawns did not go dormant this year so root systems should be very strong going into the dormant season.

 

Our biggest news is the construction of our new facility on our family farm in Mazomanie Township. A new office, shop and warehouse will enable us to serve our customers more efficiently. Cyndy and I are looking forward to getting the office out of our house!

 

Our greatest asset continues to be you, our customers. It is a great honor and responsibility to care for your properties, gardens, trees and landscapes. We look forward to our best year ever and hope that spring comes early after a short season of wintry white allows us to catch our breath and appreciate all the wonders that nature gives us every day.

 


Contact us soon for your tree, lawn and garden needs.

Spring will be here before we know it!

 

2017 Emerald Ash Borer

Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) is a small, narrow, emerald-colored beetle about the length of a penny. It smuggled itself into the country along the St. Lawrence Seaway hiding in untreated crating and shipping material.  Native to Asia, it has hitched a ride to America where our native species of Ash trees have absolutely no resistance.  It lays its eggs into the bark of the tree, which hatch into larvae that burrow into the tree’s conductive tissues.  This burrowing activity creates unique “S” shape galleries into these important tissues resulting in tree death.

As you probably know, EAB was found in Warner Park in 2013 and is advancing through the Dane County area.  Currently, Maple Bluff and Middleton are the worst hit with McFarland, Waunakee, Oregon and Sun Prairie close behind.  The average seems to be that eight years after a county is quarantined, all the non-protected trees will be dead.  2017 will be the most important year to get Ash trees injected with Treeage as we are entering year five.

The most important thing to know is that you do not need to lose your ash trees.   Emergency registration of Treeage, an injectable insecticide, now enables us to absolutely protect your trees for two full seasons against this invasive scourge.  Treeage insecticide can be injected into Ash trees as soon as leaves emerge in the spring, typically early May, until the end of the growing season.  Any Ash trees not treated will die.

Your trees don’t have to die – call or email us for a free evaluation of your Ash trees today!

2017 Lawn Program

You can have a nearly perfect lawn with just three properly timed applications.  The first application contains early spring crabgrass preventer that will destroy the germinating seeds of unwanted annuals.  Preventing these seeds from establishing while fertilizing the desirable turf will encourage the lawn to fill in.  If over-seeding is an option, fertilizer without herbicide should be used.

 

A second application containing broadleaf control should be made in later spring or early summer. Once last year’s weeds are fully emerged, they will become vulnerable to herbicides.  We use both liquid and granular products depending on conditions.  If weeds are extensive we will apply a liquid application.  This method minimizes the amounts of chemical herbicides used.

 

Lawns become dormant during the heat of summer so making applications at this time is a needless waste of resources and chemicals.  Once the cooler nights of August and September return, fertilization will thicken the lawn and encourage rooting and winter hardiness.  Broadleaf control may be warranted at this time if weeds are present.

 

Three well timed fertilizations, weed control and sometimes tree pruning to increase the amount of sunlight reaching the turf can provide you with a perfect lawn while minimizing the amount of pesticide use.  A thick stand of turf grass maintained at three inches is the most effective way of preventing erosion and runoff as well as resisting drought and controlling weeds.

Emerald Ash Borer on Lake Waubesa!

On Saturday 1/30/16 while doing Volunteer work on Dunn Heritage Park I inspected a grove of declining Ash Trees.  There was extensive sign of Woodpecker flecking and at least 50 trees of various sizes that were in severe decline. I removed the bark in an area where the woodpecker activity  was heavy and found the unmistakable galleries of Emerald Ash Borer.

Adults from this major infestation will be emerging this spring to mate and lay eggs on surrounding trees in McFarland and the town of Dunn.

They will quickly colonize ash trees that have not been protected by insecticide injection and these trees will die within a few years.

There has never been a more urgent time to treat the trees that we would like to save from this Emerald scourge than this spring.

Research at Michigan State University  has found that Treeage insecticidal injection to be 100% effective for two full growing seasons following treatment.  You don’t need to lose your Beautiful Ash Trees.  All species and varieties of Ash are susceptible. Schedule treatment now while you still have a choice.

2016 Lawn Program

While working through my horticulture degree at the UW Madison I learned that you can have a nearly perfect lawn with just three properly timed applications.

 

Early spring crabgrass preventer will destroy the germinating seeds of unwanted annuals. Preventing these seeds from establishing while fertilizing the desirable turf will encourage the lawn to fill in. If over-seeding is an option, fertilizer without herbicide should be used.

 

A second application containing broadleaf control should be made in later spring. Once last year’s weeds are fully emerged, they will become vulnerable to herbicides. We use both liquid and granular products depending on conditions. If weeds are extensive we will apply a liquid application in late May to early June. This method minimizes the amounts of chemical herbicides used.

 

Turf grass becomes dormant during the heat of summer. Applications made at this time are a needless waste of resources and chemicals but once the cooler nights of August and September return, fertilization will thicken the lawn and encourage rooting and winter hardiness. Broadleaf control may be warranted at this time if weeds are present.

 

Three well timed fertilizations, weed control and sometimes some tree pruning to increase the amount of sunlight reaching the turf can provide you with a perfect lawn while minimizing the amount of pesticide use. A thick stand of turf grass maintained at three inches is the most effective way of preventing erosion and runoff as well as resisting drought and controlling weeds.

 

Call or email us today for a free estimate and  evaluation of your lawn’s health today!

Rhizosphaera Needle Blight of Spruce

rhizosphaera

Spruce Needle Blight is a relatively new disease.  It stretches in a line from Thunder Bay Ontario southward to Dane County.  From here it stretches eastward to New York.

 

This fungus disease spreads by windblown spores and first destroys the older needles on the inside of the trees.  Year by year it progresses, destroying the foliage until only the outer new growth remains.  As the photosynthetic surface area of the trees is reduced, they begin to starve to death. Colorado Spruce are the most susceptible although varieties of White Spruce may also be killed by this disease.  Norway Spruce seems to be resistant.

 

Trees can be protected by the applications of fungicide. Depending on weather, this spray will need to be repeated four times during the growing season.  Cleaning up the dead needles beneath the tree or burying them with a layer of mulch can reduce the source of inoculum and re-infection.

 

Large trees that have been infected for more than three or four years cannot be effectively cured.  It may be more prudent to remove these trees and replace them with evergreens that are resistant.  Newly infected trees can be easily protected with a spray program.  

 

If you are concerned about your spruce trees, please call or email for a free evaluation of your trees’ health today.

 

Oaks

 

Photos by Becky Andrews

There are several diseases of oaks but the one that sends shivers down the arborists spine is Oak Wilt.  

 

This deadly fungus has a partner in crime, a beetle. Purely innocent, this insect’s only fault is having a sweet tooth.  Named the picnic beetle because it loves Kool-Aid and peanut butter, this sweets-loving bug is attracted to the sweet sap of the oak trees which runs during the summer time when the trees are wounded or pruned.

 

An oak that has been killed by Oak Wilt Fungus will exude a sweet smelling spore mat in the spring following its death.  Beetles feeding on the infected tree are covered with these spores. They visit other oaks with new pruning cuts and the spores are transmitted.  The fungus grows into the veins of the tree, choking it to death. This disease can also spread by growing through the roots into adjacent trees.

 

It is not hopeless. Oak Wilt can be managed and many cases cured with fungicide injections by professional arborists.  Summer storm damage which opens up natural wounds can be reduced by good pruning during the dormant season.  But in no case should they be pruned between April and October.

 

If you are concerned about your oak tree, call or email us for a free evaluation of your tree’s health today. It is much easier to prevent oak wilt than it is to cure it.