Climate outlook and affects on trees

The Bureau of Meteorology has issued an overview for Spring. How will this affect your trees?

• The spring outlook, shows rainfall is likely to be below average in southwest Australia, and above average in parts of southeast Queensland.
• Daytime temperatures are likely to be warmer than average for northern and south-eastern Australia.
• Spring nights are likely to be warmer than average over northern and eastern Australia, though frost risk remains in areas with clear skies and dry soils.

What does this mean for your trees?

Weather affects trees in many ways, be it obvious or not so obvious. While a tree broken by a gust of wind is easily visible, large trees may not show the effects of drought for several years. Weather related stress can make trees more susceptible to disease and insect problems and trees can even be killed by extreme weather events.

Generally, trees grow faster with increasing air temperatures. However, extreme heat increases moisture loss and can also slow growth. Extreme hot or cold soil temperatures can also affect tree growth. Many trees require a number of cool days before growth recommences in spring. Wide temperature fluctuations, like we’ve had here in Brisbane, can be hard on trees, particularly in winter. Warm days followed by freezing nights can cause bark injury on certain trees.

The effects of too much or too little rain can be temporary or permanent, depending on the type of tree. Lack of water damages cells, resulting in decreased growth, wilting, leaf scorch, leaf drop and also root damage. Too much water reduces the amount of oxygen in the soil, resulting in root damage. It can also make the tree more susceptible to many fungal diseases. Heavy rain can damage trees, compact soil, and cause erosion. Just as wind can dry out trees, reducing disease, however, it can also remove water faster than the trees can replace it. As we have experienced in Brisbane, high winds can do considerable damage to trees.

Ways to minimise damage to trees:

• Choose trees that are well suited to your area and growing conditions. Native plants are usually a great choice. Local Councils have a free trees program.
• Keep trees healthy. Healthy trees are better able to deal with stress of all kinds.
• Try to maintain an even moisture level. Water as needed and mulch.
• Have any issues dealt with quickly.

All you can do is stay aware of weather conditions and try to protect trees as best you can. And if the worst happens, give Tim the Tree-Man a call.

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