Is My Tree Dying? UGA Extension Addresses Tree Flagging in Walker County

Rock Spring, GA – You may have noticed, trees across the region have started changing, and not for the better.

“We are seeing some early leaf drop,” says Wade Hutcheson, UGA Extension Agent for Walker County.  “I hate to tell you, unless we get some rainfall and some cool nights and bright sunshiny days, we’re not going to have very much fall color again this year.”

Hutcheson explains what we’re seeing now is limb dieback, often referred to as flagging.  The extended period of dry weather has impacted the transportation of water throughout the tree, also known as transpiration. 

“A tree loses an enormous amount of water on a daily basis.  It’s estimated that a mature tree will use or lose 20 gallons of water per trunk diameter.”  Hutcheson adds, “If we are prone to invest especially in specimen trees, or those sentimental mature cant live without this tree because my grandfather helped me plant it a long time ago, remember that the best thing we can do for water through this time is long slow watering.”

Hutcheson recommends soaking the tree’s root system every 7 to 10 days.  He says one watering is better than two… provided its long enough to seep into the hard, clay surface and wide enough to make a difference.  “To water a trees root system, it can be two and a half to five times the canopy, the width of the canopy is the width of the dripline.”

Other tips include watering during the natural dew period to prevent the spread of disease and placing mulch near the trunk of a tree, but not on it, to help conserve moisture.  Hutcheson warns, “It’s going to take a good couple of soaking rains of an inch to an inch and a half or more to recharge our soil moisture to where we need.”

Other issues like insects, pruning and flare damage from lawn mowers and weed eaters can all affect how a tree performs in dry weather conditions. 

If you have concerns about the health of your tree, UGA Extension in Walker County has a great publication entitled “Is My Tree Dying,” which you can pick up a copy of in their office on Napier Street in LaFayette or view it online at extension.uga.edu.  The publication walks you through a full assessment of what to look for on your tree to determine the health of your tree.

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