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Monday - June 29, 2015

From: Henderson, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Diseases and Disorders, Pruning, Problem Plants, Trees
Title: Protecting storm-damaged pecan and black walnut trees in TX
Answered by: Guy Thompson

QUESTION:

Several trees on our property in northeast Texas were uprooted by a tornado. A pecan tree with a circumference greater than 93 inches was carried to the ground. Although it is completely horizontal, approximately one third of its roots remain within the earth. Another pecan and a black walnut tree (with circumferences of approximately 49 inches) were both lifted by the wind. The black walnut has completely fallen; the pecan is leaning at a 45 degree angle. However, despite a heaving of the earth at their bases, it seems possible that some (in the case of the pecan, perhaps many) of the roots may be intact. On these two trees, none of the roots are exposed. Visually, all of the trees appear to be alive, although I suspect that they could be relying on stored energy. Is there a chance of saving any of the trees? (I would even be willing to leave them uncut in a horizontal position if they could survive in this manner.) Is there a proper way of trimming and cutting the trees to encourage new growth to sprout from undamaged roots? Is the presence of a significant number of lichens on the upper limbs of the largest pecan an indication that the tree was already unhealthy prior to its collapse, or are large numbers of lichen common on such high branches? (The tree seemed healthy and produced an abundance of nuts this past fall.) Thanks so much for your help!

ANSWER:

You are to be commended for trying to save these valuable trees.  My first thought is that they are well worth bringing in an arborist from nearby Tyler or Longview.  I suspect that he would recommend a degree of pruning and/or supports to stabilize the leaning trees.  Since the roots are still intact there is a good chance that the trees will survive, given proper care.

Here are a few tips I lifted from the website article: 

Tree Inspections and Treatments for
Storm Damaged Trees, by Bruce R. Fraedrich, Ph.D.
"Large trees should be inspected by a Certified Arborist to determine if the root plate may have shifted. Trees with guys or stakes should be inspected periodically during the year to ensure that wires, ropes or cables used to support the tree do not girdle the stem. Guys and stakes usually are removed after one growing season, but may need to remain longer in some cases.

Plant Health Care:                                                                                                                              Plants weakened by storms may have already been under stress from various environmental factors over the last few years. Wounds created by the storm add stress to plants and they are more readily invaded by insect borers and disease-causing organisms. Plants should be inspected through the growing season for evidence of these “secondary invaders” and treatments applies as necessary to reduce damage. Fertilization and other amendments, applied based on soil analysis, will aid recovery. Irrigation and proper mulching of storm-damaged trees are important when dry weather returns."

I doubt that lichens on the limbs of your pecan indicate serious previous problems of the tree.
Good luck in your worthy efforts.

 

 

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