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Trees Not Leafing Out Yet?

Have your deciduous trees not leafed out yet? or have only partially leafed out? Do they look similar to the photos below? They are probably recovering from frost damage. Read below for an explanation from Brett.

We are seeing a lot of frost damage this season with trees of all types (both Evergreens and Deciduous trees are exhibiting symptoms) from the frosts that occurred in October 2019 and in April 2020. Please see our previous blog post if you have frost damage concerns about your Evergreen trees.

The frost damage we're seeing in deciduous trees is exhibiting as slow to partial leafing out. These trees have two sets of buds (one in Spring and one in Fall). The October frost froze the existing foliage, which not only injured the foliage but also inhibited next year's bud set by not allowing stored energy captured in the canopy to reach the roots. This energy is sparingly used during Winter dormancy, and mostly is released in the Spring for the Spring bud set. Come Spring, when the trees attempted to break dormancy with increased respiration and transpiration, there was not enough energy in the roots. Further, as they were coming out of dormancy and attempting to leaf out, we had another frost in April. This frost damaged the Spring bud set and flowers that were trying to break dormancy. These buds were killed yet again. Now the trees with already low energy stores, had to releaf once again. In many of these situations, there just was not enough energy to leaf out on the normal seasonal timeline. Unfortunately, some of these trees are not going to make it. But only time will tell.

We saw a similar frost damage situation in 2014, where deciduous trees did not bud out until mid-late June! I predict this will be the case again, so I suggest waiting until the end of June to see if the trees bud out. If they do not bud out by the end of June/beginning of July, we will reassess and see what we can do to treat your trees.

The bottom line, let's give it a month or so to see if these trees bud out. We want to make sure we are providing an accurate prognosis and treatment plan. More than anything, we would hate to prematurely diagnose a tree and end up removing a viable tree that would have otherwise survived. All told, we would rather prune dead branches out than unnecessarily remove a tree.

Let's hope for buds by July!

Thanks much,

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Talk soon,


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