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Arbor Care

Did you notice your flowering cherry trees losing their foliage this year? Anthony Moran from Superior NW joins Pete and Rob to talk about why that happened, and offer some other tips for the care and maintenance of your trees.

If your flowering cherries lost their blossoms and leaves early this year, it turns out it’s due to our weather.

“What we’re seeing is a lag reaction for the last couple of years of long, wet, miserable springs,” says Anthony. “The brown blossom rots, which affects all of the stone fruits (peaches, apricots), the pathogen comes early in the spring and it infects the new blossoms and the new buds.”

This airborne pathogen needs moisture and cool climate — which thrives in our damp location.

“The trees will bloom in April, and it will rain for the next two months, so the pathogen will keep reinfecting the trees,” says Anthony. “The tree defense is cut off [the] nutrient source to the new blossoms and leaves, drop those, and reboot: re-leaf out or re-bud out. The tree can only do that for so long.”

To nurse your trees back to health, Anthony recommends making sure the framework on your cherry is open and aerated, and you want good airflow and good light penetration. That keeps the moisture and re-infestation down. He notes that you can’t keep it the rot from happening, because of the nature of the pathogen, but you can help your tree survive it. “Mulching is good,” he says. “Give your tree the energy to fight.”

Mulches are fantastic for your trees because they contain all the nutrients they need to be healthy. “You got the nitrates, the carbons, the proteins and the sketch minerals that plants need,” Anthony says. “You have to remember that plants can’t create nitrogen themselves. They also can’t reach out and snatch it out of the environment themselves. They need helpers.”

Those helpers come in mulch – they either isolate the nitrogen or bring it to them.

The other thing to keep in mind, says Anthony, is that trees are long-living beings, surviving 200 years or more. “The things we see, the stress we see in our trees, isn’t usually from this year; it’s from last year, the year before, three years ago, something happened [and] the tree is now exhibiting the stress response to that event,” he says.

Once you’ve established a healthy tree, it will be necessary to prune it occasionally. Anthony recommends using a professional to prune your foliage; improperly pruned trees can create large problems for you and the tree. Arborists can attempt to repair the damage, but restoring the balance can take three to five years.

Listen to the whole show.

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