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What to expect for your trees in 2023

Happy New Year!

Thank you for taking the time to visit our website and learn about the conditions facing our trees and shrubs here in Colorado’s Front Range.

2022 was a challenging year for our plants and trees on many fronts. The weather continued to create challenges for optimal plant health. Severe spring storms, droughts, high winds, and increased beetle and other insect activity all emphasized the need for ongoing Plant Health Care.

Some of the environmental conditions affecting tree health in 2022 are as follows:

1. During the 2nd half of 2021 the front range of Colorado was drier than Death Valley.

2. March and April of 2022 extreme winds led to significant tree dehydration, especially in our coniferous trees.

3. May of 2022 brought moisture in the form of snow, but also a late freeze which damaged emerging buds from our Conifers as well as our deciduous trees. Not to mention extensive limb breakage.

4. July, August and September 2022 were all in the top 5 hottest months in Colorado history.

5. As of December 2nd 2022, the Colorado Front Range was classified as “Extreme Drought territory”.

6. Fortunately, the recent snow has helped but we are still in drought conditions.

These past weather conditions have led to physiological stress to all of the Front Range’s trees and shrubs. Unfortunately, this stress results in the release of a chemical scent called a “pheromone” which attracts detrimental insects. This stress also weakens the trees’ ability to withstand environmental conditions such as drought, freezes, excessive heat and disease pressure.

The stress is affecting most trees (especially Pines, Spruces, Maples, Ash, Locust etc.), but on a special note of concern are our beautiful Spruce trees. Spruce trees naturally grow and thrive at higher elevations on North facing slopes, in moist well drained soils. The forest floor is also deep in organic mulch. Seldom in our landscapes are these trees so lucky. Recently we have seen a dramatic increase in Spruce IPS beetle. These Bark beetles are lethal to the trees if the beetles are successful in entering the tree. The older, mature Spruce trees seem to be at particular risk. The beetles carry with them a fungus which once inside the tree, plugs and restricts the vascular systems which carry water and nutrition through the tree. There are no curative treatments, therefore it is of imperative importance to do as much preventative treatment as possible to help prevent the beetles from accessing the trees in the first place.

Preventative treatments are available and highly effective. Two applications per year are recommended for Pine trees for season long protection. For Spruce trees, we recommend 1-2 applications a year depending on the area you live in and size, age and condition of the tree. As a general rule young and thriving Spruce trees need only one application at this time. Ash and Locust need only one application. Early spring and mid-summer are when we aim to perform these treatments.

In addition to preventative spraying, Deep Root fertilization is extremely beneficial in providing the necessary nutrients and elements for optimal tree health and vigor. Our deep root, organic based fertilizer has all of the macro and micro elements that would be found in healthy soils.

For particularly stressed trees we add in Kelp extract and a beneficial symbiotic fungus know as mycorrhizae to help the tree recover from the environmental stresses.

Deep root fertilization is beneficial for all trees and shrubs. If you are not already doing this, I would highly recommend it for your trees and shrubs.

An additional note of concern are trees which can only be pruned in the winter such as crab apples, pears and hawthorn trees. Due to the extreme weather conditions, Fireblight infections have been thriving among these trees. Fireblight is an infection which, if not controlled or removed will spread and be lethal to the trees. These trees can only be pruned in winter and right now is the perfect time to prune these trees as we still have a few of months of winter left.

Please send us an email if you would like a free estimate for any of your tree needs – Pruning, Bark Boring Sprays or Deep Root tree fertilization.

Knothead is grateful to our customers for the trust you have placed in us to help take care of your trees. If you have any questions which I may be able to help with, please do not hesitate to reach out and I will do my best to help in any way I can. We are here to help.

- Brett


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