By Mario Villarino, DVM, Ph.D. Hopkins County Extension Agent for Ag and NR
It has been a hot and dry summer. It only takes a short trip to the countryside to see the impact of the lack of water in crops and pastures. Urban settings show the impact although because of irrigation, the severity is less evident.
According to Dr. Calvin Finch, former Texas A&M Urban Water Program Director for the Texas A&M Institute of Renewable Natural Resources, summer is common for shade trees to drop leaves. Prepare to see even more as trees that put on heavy leaf loads in response to the generous rains received during winter and spring, adjust their foliar load to a level that can be supported in the current dry spell.
Adjusting leaf load to match available soil moisture is a survival mechanism practiced by well adapted trees. Some of the leaves that drop will have leaf spots, galls and be discolored, but that is just all part of the process.
Sometime before the leaves actually drop, the tree cuts off nutrients and discontinues its defense efforts for the leaves that are being dropped. The pests take advantage. A special irrigation application won’t hurt the trees dropping leaves but it probably won’t be enough to prevent the leaf drop. Applying fertilizer will not help, so save it for next spring. The affected trees will recover.
Lawns also suffer the impact of the heat. Sadly enough, even with proper irrigation, the impact of high temperatures causes stress in lawns making them more susceptible to disease.
For more information on this or any other agricultural topics please contact the Hopkins County Extension Office at 903-885-3443 or email me at [email protected].