2006-09-13 / Agriculture

Drought poses danger to trees

Georgia's ongoing drought is having negative effects on shade trees and has caused a decrease in timber production for the past growing season, according to the Georgia Forestry Commission. Both pine and hardwood have been impacted, due to a critical lack of water.

"By the time you see branches die back, it may be

too late," said James Johnson, Staff Forester with the GFC. "Preventive measures should be taken now to save valuable shade trees." If outdoor watering is permitted in your area, trees should be watered thoroughly underneath their drip lines, the area below the tree's canopy, where rainfall drips from the foliage to the ground and onto "feeder roots."

When this area is saturated weekly, these vital roots are able to continue nourishing the tree and preventing moisture stress during dry periods, according to Johnson. Thorough watering once a week, or once every other week, is more beneficial than light, irregular waterings, he said. Water conservation can be

accomplished by getting extra mileage out of used water, according to Johnson.

"Certain types of waste water can safely be used to sustain your trees. Water from dish or clothes washing works well because it is diluted."

Trees also benefit from mulching because it helps hold moisture in the soil. This can be especially beneficial in shallow-rooted species, such as dogwood. Johnson said trees should not be fertilized in a drought because it stimulates growth in branches and twigs and puts extra strain on the trees' limited water supply. As cooler

weather approaches, trees will require less moisture and supplemental water isn't necessary. For more advice on sustaining the health of your trees, visit www.gatrees.org or call the Georgia Forestry Commission at 1-800-GATREES.

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