The Woodward News

Local News

July 22, 2012

Trees can also suffer in drought conditions

Woodward, Okla. — With Northwest Oklahoma in a severe drought and the rest of the state in a mostly moderate drought, keeping trees healthy may not be an easy task.

Jason Covalt, owner of J.W.'s  Nursery, said wilting and leaves or needles dropping are the 2 signs that a tree is suffering from the drought.

Trees often drop some of their foliage to survive, but ultimately, the foliage will burn if they go too long without water, he said.

"Some people assume because they (trees) are big and old, they don't need to be watered," Covalt said.

However, trees, even the big, old ones need to be watered especially during these dry summer months. New trees need to be watered daily and sometimes just turning on a sprinkler in a yard will not be enough, he said.

"There are some trees that won't stand the drought at all," he said.

Some of the trees he was referring to might include those that are not suited for this growing zone such as Japanese maples or azaleas.  Woodward is in Zone 6 with Kansas and Colorado, separate from the rest of the state, since it is much drier than most of the state.

Some types of trees such as willows also require more watering. There are some trees, like oaks and Bradford pears, that will succumb to being overwatered, but Covalt said you will not see that often.

"In a drought, it's hard to overwater trees," he said.

Aside from watering the trees, it is also important for people to feed their trees with something organic, not just a manmade fertilizer, Covalt said.  For example, he sells and uses an organic fertilizer called Humore, which is a manure and alfalfa compost made in Shattuck.

"Feeding it will make it stronger, give it better color and just get the nutrients into the tree that it needs," he said.

When applying the compost, Covalt said to go out to the drip line of the tree, which is however far out the branches go, and spread the compost evenly all the way around the tree.

You don't want to put it up against the trunk of the tree, but farther out because the roots extend like the branches, he said.  So if you spread the compost where the branches end, then that is closer to where the roots are, so the nutrients can reach the roots better, he said.

Covalt said the feeder roots of a tree are in the top 4 to 6 inches of the soil so you only have to work the compost in a couple inches all around the tree.

"Working that in all the way around and watering that in will give the soil organic matter," which feeds the trees, he said. "The better fed they are, the less water they take."

Another tip he had is to make sure trees are evenly watered. Sometimes people will leave a drip on their tree for a couple days and then turn it off which is not advisable.

"Having the tree sit in water and then drying it out, it's too extreme," Covalt said.

Even moisture and keeping your tree well fed are the 2 essentials to keeping it healthy, he said.

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