Drought impacts conifers from Willamette Valley to Roseburg

Oregon Dept. of Forestry photo

EUGENE, Ore. -- Foresters and the public reported tree damage and delayed effects from last year's drought on forests throughout the Willamette Valley, Oregon Dept.of Forestry said.

Last year's high temperatures, the warmest on record, coupled with a limited snowpack increased the drought's impact. Drought affects trees by causing internal moisture stress that can damage trees and make them more susceptible to disease and insect damage, officials say.

Trees impacted by drought can show symptoms like abnormal foliage loss, dead branch tips throughout the canopy, dead branches, dead trees and tops. These symptoms are most visible during the spring following the drought, typically May-June.

"Despite increased rain and snow earlier this year alleviating the drought conditions, the intense drought over the past three years damaged some trees permanently and others are showing signs of stress," said Sarah Navarro, a forestry pathologist for the agency.

Rain will determine whether some of these trees recover or die. If drought -- a prolonged period of abnormally low rainfall -- returns more trees will show signs of stress. However, people can help their trees through these preventative efforts:

* Plant drought-tolerant tree species

* Control vegetation (especially grasses) that compete for soil moisture

* Remove and destroy dead and dying trees, blowdown and slash to reduce insect infestations

* Avoid damage from machines and soil compaction

* Irrigate landscape trees during dry weather, applying water slowly or use drip irrigation lines.

* Do not alter drainage patterns (ditches, ponds, etc.) near established trees.

* Do not fertilize during drought conditions. Fertilizing trees can dehydrate them more quickly.

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