The year 2007 has been especially challenging for trees throughout Tennessee and much of the southeastern U.S.
An unusually early spring caused leaves and flowers to emerge prematurely in March, only to be followed by several days of below normal, freezing temperatures in April. The cell walls of many leaves were punctured by freezing ice crystals, causing leaf mortality. Then trees had to draw upon already depleted energy reserves to flush new leaves and accelerate photosynthesis.
About the time that many of the trees were recovering, a second more devastating stress developed in the form of prolonged drought and excessive heat. This caused many trees to initiate early fall dormancy.
Essentially trees retarded efforts to grow much in 2007, instead holding their resources for a better chance in 2008. Some leaves and what little fruit that is present, have aborted much earlier than normal. Red oak acorns, hickory nuts and walnuts began dropping prematurely, as early as the second week of the summer. White oak acorns are virtually non-existent throughout most of the region. Squirrels have resorted to feeding on tree buds, which will further affect tree health.
When trees are under extreme stress they will abandon the portions of their system that are least essential in order to direct energy and moisture to the most critical life-sustaining areas. Energy is most needed for maintaining living tissue and for the production of fine roots. Everything else, such as fruit development, stem elongation, and trunk diameter expansion, is secondary.... read the rest of the story by Subscribing now.