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Mr. Smarty Plants - Effects of drought and insects on junipers

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Monday - August 06, 2007

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Trees
Title: Effects of drought and insects on junipers
Answered by: Nan Hampton and Joe Marcus

QUESTION:

We live on acreage about 18 miles southwest of Austin. Ever since we moved here about 6 years ago, we've noticed that our mature Ashe junipers seem to be in some sort of decline with foliage gradually turning brown and dropping, or in many cases dropping green branch tips at an abnormal rate. No one seems to know what is wrong. Some of our big trees have died, and others appear to be dying. Do you have any idea what could be causing this, and is there anything we can do?

ANSWER:

The state's climatologist has declared that the prolonged drought of the past several years has been broken since we have received record rainfall this spring and summer. Your trees could be suffering from the extended drought. The lack of water in itself is bad for the tree, of course; but, secondary effects from too little water are also deleterious in that the trees are more susceptible to diseases and pests. If it was the drought, you can hope that the recent rains and continued normal amounts of rainfall will remedy the problem.

Mature Ashe junipers do not like changes in their root zones and are unable to quickly respond to those changes. They are particularly susceptible to increased moisture around their roots. If you have made changes to the way water runs off your land or if you irrigate, you may have inadvertently hurt your trees.

Juniper budworm has been a problem on Ashe juniper in your area in recent years. This is a possibility.

Another possibility is that spider mites might be attacking your trees. If that is the case, the rains might have alleviated your problem as well.

You might want to have a chat with someone with the Texas Forest Service about your problem. They, too, have an Ask the Experts feature on their web page.

 

 

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