DEALING WITH THE FALL DROUGHT
In Illinois, spring and fall typically bring reliable rainfall. Dependable fall and spring precipitation is why we say these are the best times of year to plant trees in our region.
Fall of 2017 is off to a dry start. There has been little significant rainfall in the past month, and we experienced a string of high temperatures these past few weeks. At this time of year, our cool season lawns should be growing annoyingly fast. My mower should be cutting the lawn at least once, if not twice a week. In the last five weeks, I've mowed my lawn one and a half times. The "half mowing" occurred last weekend, when I fired up the mower to cut some newly seeded patches of turf that I have been watering.
Late summer to early fall is also a good time to overseed, renovate, or start a cool season lawn. Again, the fall weather, which normally brings cooler temperatures and some rain, is ideal for cool season turf grasses. This year, if you are not irrigating newly seeded lawn, it likely will not successfully establish and survive the winter.
Cool season perennial lawn weeds (think dandelions, clover, plantain, and many others) are best treated in the fall as they are often actively growing and preparing for winter. Actively growing plants readily take up herbicide that translocates to the root system and kills the entire plant. Thing is with the hot, dry weather our cool season weeds are not actively growing as normal. Therefore, herbicide applications will be less efficient. Our window for treating lawn weeds closes about mid-October, and we may still be in the same situation as we are now.
Evergreens are another landscape plant where fall precipitation is critical. By holding their foliage through the winter, evergreens continue to lose water, unlike their deciduous counterparts. Frozen winter soils do not permit evergreens to replenish that loss of water. Evergreens going into winter after a droughty fall run the risk of severe winter burn of foliage, stress, and perhaps the outright death of the plant.
Following are important tips when dealing with fall drought:
- Water newly planted trees, shrubs, and perennials. Trees especially take a long time to become established, which can be upwards of two years depending on the species and site conditions. A plant without an established root system is highly susceptible to drought stress.
- Evergreens both newly planted and established require irrigation during a fall drought. Leave a dripping hose at the base of the evergreen for several hours at least once a week. A five-gallon bucket with holes drilled in the bottom does the same trick.
- For those desiring a high-quality turf, irrigating in the fall will provide the necessary moisture to keep the lawn green and actively growing. Apply about an inch of water per week.
- Mulch is a great technique for insulating the soil from temperature extremes and conserves moisture. Two to four inches of wood chips are adequate. (Aside: Mulch should NEVER touch the trunk of a tree or shrub.)
- Irrigate fall blooming plants. Drought reduces the flowering of fall blooming plants and pollinators need that critical nectar source this time of year.
When it comes to the weather, I wish there was a crystal ball to tell us exactly when the rains and cooler temperatures will return. The best we can do are weather computer models for predictions. As of now, the models suggest temperatures will cool to more seasonal levels, but we will remain dry. There is no significant rainfall in the long-range forecasts until November. By then it will be too late for our lawns, and depending on how low the temperatures get, may be too late for our evergreens.
Posted by Christopher Enroth
Fall Tree Fertilizer
NU-ARBOR is a technologically advanced fertilizer recommended for general maintenance applications. NU-ARBOR fertilizers contain superior forms of N-P-K and essential enzymes for root enhancement.
Contains food grade urea food grade ortho phosphoric acid food grade potassium hydroxide seaweed extract and sugar. 2-1/2 gal jugs
Call your sales rep for more information.
PHC for Trees SRN 11-22-22 SRN
PHC for Trees SRN 11-22-22 is a fully soluble product that provides both chemical and biological fertility. Its chemically-based elements address trees’ immediate nutritional needs, while its beneficial bacteria will help to sustain fertility over the long term. Recommended for spring or fall applications.
Call your sales rep for more information.
Mark Your Calendar
ILCA Annual Party and Member Meeting
Thursday, November 2, 2017
Two Brothers Roundhouse
205 N. Broadway, Aurora, IL 60505
Over 300 people attended the 2016 Annual Party including the Board of Directors, Past-Presidents, company owners/senior managers, new members, and ILCA luminaries. It is a great evening of networking, recognizing achievements, food, and BEER!
Illinois Arborist Association 2017 Annual Conference & Trade Show
October 17–18, 2017
Tinley Park Convention Center
18501 South Harlem Ave., Tinley Park, IL
IAA 2017 is the ONLY conference where you’ll hear informed debate and focused discussion on the current issues and trends facing Illinois’ Tree Care Industry. With an opportunity to learn more from national experts and your Illinois peers, IAA is your meeting place for Illinois’ Tree Care Community.