As tree growth slows during a drought, it decreases a tree’s ability to take in enough carbon to stay alive. When the tree doesn’t reverse this trend, the health progressively declines and over time it slowly dies. These declines are more gradual than the unfavorable die-offs that have become increasingly common after major droughts, but the long-term impacts can be severe.
One common effect of drought is stem dieback, which is a result of the loss of fine feeder roots. As the soil becomes dry, the fine roots in the upper soil surface may be stimulated to increase in number to get any little water is available. However, if the soil remains dry, they will die. When it does rain again, the plant may not be able to take full advantage of the much needed water because of its reduced root mass. The result is a resizing of the canopy through branch die-back. If drought persists into the next growing season or recurs before the tree can fully recover, it may die.
Pest can also become a huge hurdle after drought. Many pests, like wood borers and bark beetles, are not able to survive in a healthy tree. As a tree becomes weakened from drought, these pests invade rapidly. Other pests that take advantage of drought-stressed plants include the bronze birch borer, black turpentine beetle, and many conifer bark beetle species.
Schedule a complimentary consultation with a SavATree Certified Arborist to discuss the best options for taking care of your trees.