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Fall Cankerworm
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What Every Homeowner Needs to Know About Their Aging Trees

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Hazardous Trees

The content below was written in 2010,  You might want to go to:
What Every Homeowner Needs To Know About Their Aging Trees. I presented this program before about 180 people on February 24,2015

With this season's weather (2010), we have seen lots of fallen trees.  Why do they fall when in other years there have not been so many?

 There are a number of situations that cause trees to fall.  What we have seen as the ground became saturated with rain in the fall is that the diminished root system gives way and loses it's anchorage in the ground.  Our droughts of 2007 and 2008 caused the lose of feeder roots.  The vigorous growth we have had during 2009 has added a great deal of additional weight to the canopy of the trees.  If circumstances change such as a great deal of rain which softens the soil and strong wind or an ice storm appears, then  potentially we will have lots of storm damage.
 
If you have lived in this area for long in the early to mid fall, you will have noticed the mushrooms that appear at the base of many of our older trees, especially willow oaks.  The most common mushroom, Inonotus dryadeus, is commonly called white root rot, (or as I have learned recently Weeping Conk) although the fruiting body has a Cinnamon color which eventually turns black in the early winter. These mushrooms invade the root systems of trees and make entries through wounds that appear near concrete sidewalks and curbs.  Lawn mowers also can damage a tree and cause an entry place for the mushroom spores.  It usually takes several years for the mushroom to grow to such an extent that the tree is hazardous.  I frequently have seen trees decline over a seven year period. (I have changed the number of years  Once the mushroom spreads so that the fruiting bodies appear over 40 to 50% of the diameter of the trunk, the tree must be removed or run the risk of its falling.  Because it is inevitable that the tree will die or get blown over, then the proper course of action is to remove it soon after you discover the mushrooms.  Sometimes depending on the weight of the canopy (crown reduction pruning) and the amount of root rot seen, the tree can stay for several more years.  Pruning the tree to remove weight with the consultation of a qualified arborist might allow you to buy a little time.  Just realize that pruning is a short term answer.
 
One would think that an ice storm would be the most dangerous time for having trees fall, but that is not true.  Ice storms are rare, and the time the trees are most vulnerable is in the early spring just after the leaves have come out.  The reason for this increased risk is that the ground is moist, there is a greater likelihood of high winds and, most important, the leaf canopy is large with a heavy succulent leaves.  
 
If you suspect that you have any of the problems mentioned above, you should consult a qualified arborist who has the experience and skill to diagnose your problem and make an educated decision.  In the arboricultural profession, the first person to contact would be a Consulting Arborist and the second person would be a Certified Arborist.

The fall cankerworm has been a serious problem for the Charlotte area.  More on Cankerworms here

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