Brown Leaves on Trees

by Ryan
(Strandburg, SD)

I live in Northeastern South Dakota, 30 miles North east of Watertown SD. Zip code is 57265.

I had the county plant trees for me a year ago. We were wet and cool early, then turned to hot and dry. There is still moisture in soil, I would say good sub soil moisture.

I am having problems with American Plum and Cranberry Bushes.

Also some Lilac, where they are getting brown leaves, alot of the American Plum have already died.

I have Meyers spruce, Bur oak, Amur maples and multiple other variety of trees and they show no signs of brown leaves and very healthy. The cranberry bush and plum tree leaves do not appear wilted, there are some green leaves. Any idea what could be causing this? Thanks very much!!

Comments for Brown Leaves on Trees

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Jul 18, 2017
Brown leaves are just the tip of the iceberg
by: Jacki

Okay, so it looks like you have black plastic mulch around the base of your trees. I'm wondering if this gets too hot. I've put my hand underneath some of this tarp stuff, and it's too hot to keep it under there for more than a second or two. Think what this is doing to the roots of newly planted trees!

What I would do is make sure to put some kind of organic mulch - bark, wood chips or even straw, on top of it to make it a bit cooler.

I think what's happened is that the weather was great for growing earlier in the season - cool, showery, etc. but now it's drying out, low humidity and then the final straw, the heat of the sun on the plastic around the roots.

They can't keep up, being young, and so the tree compensates by dropping some of the leaves. This explains why there are some green leaves still, and this is a good sign.

One of the founders of the gardening practice known as Hugelkultur, Sepp Holzer, developed a system of completely de-leafing trees so they could be transplanted out of season. He did this by covering the bare root trees with plastic, drying them out so the leaves all fall off, then planting them. They recover just fine!

So, when you water, do a good job of it, don't tease.

Drip irrigation is best, because the water can get down into the deep layers of soil, rather than just staying at the surface, which will just exacerbate the problem, encouraging shallow rooting.

Don't give up, all is not lost! By this time next year they'll be fully established and happy.

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