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How To Identify Tree Ailments

Tree disease control is among the major activities in forestry since forests suffer from multiple pathogens, nutrient deficiencies, and pest invasions. Any tree disease, regardless of the inducing cause, threatens forest health and impacts any related industry. From harvesting to environmental needs – tree pests and diseases are an ultimate nuisance for any business involved. Besides, healthy trees mean a healthy population, so common people are affected as well. In this regard, tree disease identification and treatment is a regular activity of foresters, benefiting all.

Plant diseases can cause a loss in the crop yield or damage to the aesthetics of the plant itself. To make matters worse, these issues can also weaken the integrity of a tree. In this instance, hazardous situations may occur in which property damage or even serious bodily injury could result from falling branches or even the toppling of the tree itself. To avoid such hazards, you must recognize the telltale signs of common tree diseases so that you may take the necessary actions to remedy the issues.

Disease outbreaks are often seasonal, regional, and species-specific. The following list is some three ailments you may encounter, but infestations and disease will vary from location to location.

9 Signs Of A Sick Tree

Witnessing the slow death of a beloved tree is sad for any homeowner, hobbyist or professional. Trees can acquire diseases, just like people and animals do.

The good news is, three diseases don’t have to be a death sentence if they are stopped in time. Many diseases can be treated as soon as the bacterial or fungal culprit is identified. For serious cases, you should hire a professional to treat the tree or, if it’s too late, remove it from your landscape before it becomes a hazard.

Sign of Tree Disease #1: Tree Bark Changes

One of the most easy-to-identify signs of tree disease is tree bark changes. If you notice tree bark fungus growing on your tree with white or black spots on the tree bark, these are clear signs that your tree should be examined by a professional. Cracking, peeling, crumbling, brittle or spongy bark are also signs of an unhealthy tree. 

Sign of Tree Disease #2: Cracks In The Tree Trunk

Sometimes, the cracks that form in a tree’s trunk will be perfectly harmless. However, if the cracks or splits are significant and go deeper than the bark, it’s best to seek professional advice from an arborist. It may be a sign of a sick, structurally compromised or potentially dangerous tree in these cases. 

Sign of Tree Disease #3: Reduced Foliage

Healthy trees enjoy full leaf coverage in summer and spring. Unless it’s the middle of winter, your tree should have some greenery on its branches. If your tree is no longer producing leaves at all, its leaves have browned out, or the leaves have thinned out in a small section of the tree canopy, this may be a sign of tree disease. A tree without leaves in the spring or summer can be a sign that the tree has died. 

When looking at a deciduous tree’s leaves, check carefully to see if the dead leaves clinging to it while the others are bare. The branches with leaves are diseased or dying. Trees should naturally shed their leaves, but if their leaves are clinging or frozen to the branch, your tree might have died. 

Sign of Tree Disease #4: Discoloured Leaves

If you start to see unexplained changes, spots or mottling of the leaves, it could be a sign of several problems. Discoloured leaves can indicate that three has a disease, that the tree isn’t receiving enough water, sunlight or nutrients such as nitrogen, meaning it doesn’t have enough energy for photosynthesis and leaves. On evergreen trees, branches with yellow, red or brown leaves are sick or dying and need to be inspected by an arborist

Sign of Tree Disease #5: Fungal Disease

One of the most damaging tree diseases is a fungal disease. Trees can become infected by fungi with airborne spores, or fungi may be transferred from another infected plant or tree. If the fungi spread throughout the tree and have attacked the root system, it may become sick. Signs of a fungal attack include a white substance that forms when the bark is chipped off, presence of mushroom or conk-shaped fruiting bodies. 

Sign of Tree Disease #6: Pests

Many different pests can invade a tree and cause tree disease. In Australia, the most common tree pests include:

  • Termites – Look for wood shavings, termite wings, mud tubes on the tree bark, an unstable or hollow trunk, or termite nests in the soil around the tree base
  • Leaf beetles – Keep a lookout for ‘shothole’ or ‘scattergun’ damage to leaves.
  • Wood wasps – Search for meandering galleries under the bark packed with fine boring dust and round, clean-cut holes penetrating the wood.
  • Stem borers – Presence of sawdust, calluses and cracked bark lifted bark, exit holes, swelling, leaking sap, ring-barking and withered branch tips

Sign of Tree Disease #7: Deadwood

Deadwood can be perfectly normal for a tree canopy. However, deadwood and dead growth tips can also signify that the tree is under stress and potentially sick. We recommend seeking professional advice to ensure it’s not a sign of a bigger health issue. 

Sign of Tree Disease #8: Changes To The Soil Around The Tree

Often, the soil surrounding the tree can provide clues about the health of your tree. If the soil is bone dry or cracked, the tree may be thirsty for water. If the soil is waterlogged and compressed, the earth may not be strong enough to hold the tree in position. The tree may even start to lean slightly. Soil disturbance, such as excavation, can greatly damage the roots and even destabilize the tree. Raising the soil around the tree trunk and roots can suffocate the root system as tree roots need oxygenated soil to grow. We recommend seeking professional advice before undertaking these works. 

Sign of Tree Disease #9: Root Rot

Another common tree disease is root rot. Damage to the roots is critical, as roots are important to help the tree absorb water and nutrients to grow and flourish. This rotting is likely caused by a fungal infection that has entered into the roots. Wilted or yellowish leaves can identify root rot in summer. To prevent the spread, it’s important to hire a professional to skillfully prune the tree and treat the soil to control the fungus infection. 

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How To Keep Your Trees and Shrubs Disease-Free

Keeping your trees and shrubs healthy requires strict prevention measures. Addressing insect and disease problems at the onset is key to ensuring a healthy landscape across all seasons. By preventing disease and pest infestation before they happen rather than figuring out the solution, later on, you can save hundreds of dollars on pesticides and reap the benefits of an impressive landscape.

Prevention is a three-step process that includes plant care, proper monitoring, and treatment. In many cases, prevention is followed by a method called Integrated Pest Management (IPM). This ecological approach to handling pest problems and diseases offers effective results without the use of harmful chemicals. The steps involved are guaranteed safe for people, pets, and the surroundings.

Trees and shrub diseases to look out for

Below are some of the most common diseases that plague trees and shrubs:

  • Leaf spot disease – They create spots on the leaves of trees and shrubs. Leaf spots can be brownish, tan, or black and create dark spotting on leaves.
  • Apple scab – This leads apple and crabapple trees to prematurely shed their leaves during late spring and early summer. A tree affected by an apple scab will have leaves with brown and black spots.
  • Black knot – This disease creates a soft, olive-green matter around the twigs which eventually changes to hard black knots when fall comes. Black knot often infects the fruit and branches. If left untreated, this disease can kill off a tree.
  • Anthracnose – Sometimes misdiagnosed as oak wilt, anthracnose causes the leaves to develop dry, brown, and blotchy spots before they drop. Anthracnose can attack trees and shrubs early in the season.
  • Cytospora canker – This disease causes discolouration on certain areas of a tree’s trunk and branches, common among trees aged 15 years and older

When Should You Call For Professional Tree Service?

Just as you would care for any other plant, you need to make sure that your trees receive the best possible care, especially since they are so large, heavy, and destructive if they fall. To ensure that your trees are getting the best care possible, you will want to take a few moments to examine when it might be time for you to call for professional tree services.

You Notice A Weird Growth

There should not be anything growing on the bark of the tree trunk, so if you are noticing a weird growth, you will want to have it checked out right away. Depending on what it is, a company that provides quality tree service might be able to get rid of it, ensuring that the overall health of your tree is protected. Even if the growth just looks like a mushroom of sorts, you still need expert help, as mushrooms are a fungus, and you do not want fungus growing all over your trees. Should that affected tree be past the point of saving, the tree-care experts might prevent the other trees from becoming infected with disease or fungus.

The Branches Are Overgrown

Some people might like the look of trees being the fullest they can be. However, there can be a lot of problems when branches are overgrown. You do not want the tree brushing up against the roof or siding of your home. You don’t want any branches getting too close to your windows because a single wind storm could then put you in the position of dealing with a shattered window. Then there is the risk of branches becoming so heavy that they just snap off of the tree due to excess weight, and this could put you and your loved ones at risk if you are near the tree when that happens. Call for the assistance of a tree service expert, and he or she will be able to trim back the branches that are the most vulnerable, all while keeping your tree looking nice and clean.

Your tree appears diseased.

Trees are vulnerable to a wide variety of diseases, which vary depending upon the species of tree, the environment, and a number of other factors. If you notice signs of stress on your tree, you may need to call in a professional who can properly diagnose and treat the problem. While certain symptoms – such as yellowed or shrunken leaves – may be signs of stress caused by under-watering or over-fertilization, they may also be signs of a viral or fungal infection. In Oregon, bacterial, fungal, and viral infections can be transmitted easily by insects or other damaged tree parts. Likewise, lesions under the leaves of a tree can be caused by fungus or bacteria. The proper treatment will depend on the exact nature of the problem. Too often, overeager homeowners attempt to simply cut away sickly leaves, only to wonder why the tree does not seem to be recovering. Without solving the problem at the source of the illness, the tree cannot become healthy again. Professional tree trimmers can assess exactly what is afflicting your ailing tree and recommend a course of action.

There are large and possibly dangerous limbs.

While trimming smaller branches is a relatively quick and painless process, removing larger limbs can often pose a risk to people and property if not done with the proper training and equipment. Tree limbs can become damaged by heavy winds or other adverse weather conditions, leaving them hanging precariously and in danger of falling. When these large limbs are removed, it is not simply a matter of cutting them and letting them drop. They must be guided in such a way as to be brought to the ground safely. More often than not, this requires special equipment that only a professional will have on hand.

The tree is growing near power lines.

Never attempt to trim trees yourself if you are in danger of coming into contact with power lines. Power lines carry thousands of volts of electricity, and you should always assume that they are energized, even if they have been downed by tree branches or inclement weather. If you notice a branch growing close to or making contact with a power line or a broken limb that has fallen into a power line, contact your local tree trimming service to decide if the limb should be removed.

The tree has died

A dead tree on your property can potentially pose a large threat to life and property. Not only is it a hazard, but it can also attract insects such as termites or carpenter ants, which, if not removed properly, can spread into the rest of your home. Removing a dead tree from your property on your own is not recommended for these reasons; a professional will be able to provide the equipment, insurance, and training necessary to do so without putting your safety or property at any undue risk. In many cases, a professional tree service can also help you plant a new tree to replace the one you remove. While utilizing the services of a professional tree trimmer may seem costly, it will save you a great deal of stress in the long run.

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