Minnesota Farmer

Drought toll broadens

The drought toll talk in farm country has mostly centered on food and feed crops, but another effect of the drought is starting to show up, it’s the trees.
The spruce tree above is showing the stress of last summers drought.  Needles are falling and the branches are getting bare.  This is not how you expect a blue spruce to look in the winter.
100_1939 This is more like what spruce branches should look like.  This tree went into the winter with a bit more moisture underneath and should survive the winter.  The needles are the healthy blue-green you would expect from a Colorado Blue spruce.  The snows of a winter in southern Minnesota have slowed it down but not stopped it, and that is the problem, these trees are still trying to take up moisture from the frozen ground.  When we get a warm winter day they try to grow a bit more.  If they went into the winter under moisture stress they will not survive.100_1940 These trees were planted together 30 years ago as 6 inch long seedlings.  It will be a shame to lose any of them but it is obvious that not all of them went into winter with the same amount of water under them. 100_1941Other evergreen trees are also showing stress, this is a red cedar that is in decline due to drought stress.  Evergreens are the most likely to die when they go into the winter dry.  Deciduous trees that lose their leaves in the fall do not suffer so much in the winter, but they also can go into winter looking a bit poor and not survive.  Winter is hard on trees, and doubly hard when it is dry.

If you have evergreens you really cherish, I hope you watered them well last fall or you may lose them.  You may still be able to save them by getting water into their roots early next spring.  It is possible the damage may already have been done, only time will tell.



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I also read on MPR a few days ago that the drought is causing foundations and walls to crack in homes in southeastern Minnesota.

Comment by Minnesota Prairie Roots

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