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Tree Disease Management Q&A

For insight into tree disease management Arbor Age recently asked Sean Facey, strategic accounts & support services manager at Arborjet, about the tree diseases that industry professionals have been dealing with this year, as well as how to prepare for the months ahead.


AA: What are some of the most prevalent tree diseases that tree care professionals are dealing with this summer, and how are they dealing with those particular problems?


Facey: The 2011 growing season has seen extreme environmental conditions in many parts of the country. Many of our customers experienced an unusually cool, wet and extended spring, which resulted in widespread occurrence of anthracnose, scab, various types of leaf spot, and foliar fungal issues. Unfortunately, for many of these issues, once the symptoms appear, it is often too late to do much about it. Our guidance to our customers is to apply PHOSPHO-jet in the fall to prevent or minimize the occurrence of these diseases the following growing season.


AA: How, if at all, has this summer’s weather impacted tree diseases in various regions of the United States?


Facey: Many of our customers all over the country were dealing with extreme heat this summer. In some areas, the extreme heat was combined with little to no rainfall, or too much all at once, leading to general stress and diseases associated with drainage issues. The biggest impact of the high heat this summer was to reduce growth and photosynthesis, weaken trees in general, and make them more susceptible to insect and disease problems overall. The high heat also complicates the treatment options for the tree care professional, as trees under drought stress are more sensitive to treatments.


AA: What recommendations do you have for tree care professionals when it comes to tree disease identification?


Facey: The most important element of disease identification is tree species identification. Many diseases and insects have evolved to be host-specific, so knowing the species or cultivar will immediately narrow down the possibilities. There are a number of excellent reference books, as well as a wealth of information available over the Internet, complete with disease descriptions, host ranges, lifecycles and illustrations. For those diseases that can only be identified in a lab setting, or when there is doubt, applicators should avoid the temptation to guess, and utilize local extension or find a lab that does appropriate testing.


AA: What advice do you have regarding tree disease treatment in terms of curative versus preventative?


Facey: Taking a pro-active, preventative approach is always going to be a more effective strategy for keeping a tree healthy than trying to turn around a tree which is at a later stage of infestation or infection. Once a tree is infested or infected, the tree is already stressed to some degree. The challenge for most applicators is one of educating their customer base to understand that trees operate in a different timeline than we do. Trees take longer to show symptoms of being “sick” and also take longer to recover, so the farther ahead of any tree problem you can be, the better the result in the tree is going to be.


AA: As we head toward fall and winter, what should tree care professionals be preparing for, and how should they prepare?


Facey: As winter approaches, growing season functions slow down and resources begin to be stored to carry the tree through the winter and provide ample minerals and carbohydrates for strong growth the following spring. Anything the tree care professional can do to benefit the tree prior to winter will typically yield a positive result in the spring. If the tree has had a fungal disease that was untreated this year, it would be a good idea to do a treatment in the fall to prevent the reoccurrence of that disease next spring. As trees seek to store minerals and increase root growth in the fall, applications of nutrients before winter will positively affect growth in the spring. Trunk injections of long-residual pesticides or fungicides are effective at preventing pest problems in the following growing season, and applications of nutrients can promote growth, health and vigor.


For more information about these and other tree health care topics, visit www.arborjet.com

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