As summer drags on and temperatures continue to rise, we start getting calls about limbs falling off of otherwise healthy trees. Unlike storm or ice damage, branches falling in the middle of summer can happen unpredictably and seemingly without cause. This phenomenon is well-documented but unfortunately not well understood.
Why Do Trees Drop Branches in the Summer?
The tendency of some trees to lose large limbs during periods of high temperatures, like our North Texas summers, is generally called “sudden branch drop,” although it is also referred to as “high temperature limb failure,” and similar terms. While it is a not-uncommon occurrence during the summer, the exact cause is not known.
Underlying Causes of Sudden Limb Loss
Even if there is no consensus on what causes the phenomenon of summer limb loss, there are several factors that likely contribute to branch instability:
- Heat-related and general stress are widespread among urban trees during the summer months
- Lack of water and other nutrients because of drought conditions can cause dieback and weakening
- Internal decay
- Systemic diseases/infections
Can You Prevent Sudden Limb Drop?
Since the exact cause of high temperature limb loss is unknown, there is no guaranteed way to prevent it. However, following best practices for tree care during the summer will give your tree the best chance to recover from losing a large limb.
- Proper watering, especially during hot and dry periods, is essential
- Use mulch to regulate soil temperature and reduce competition with turf grass or other plants
- Follow recommended trimming guidelines for your trees and your area
- DO NOT USE HIGH-NITROGEN FERTILIZER which causes an imbalance in a tree’s energy reserves
- DO NOT USE “WEED AND FEED” which is formulated specifically to target plants like trees
- Ask an ISA Certified Arborist® to inspect your trees for signs of stress, disease, pests, or structural problems
At Texas Tree Surgeons, we love trees and we love our community! Sudden limb drop may be unpreventable, but minimizing its effects and helping your trees thrive even during the hottest summers is easy! Our team of certified arborists and experienced tree workers can help keep your trees healthy and looking their best year-round. Contact us today to schedule an assessment!
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