Industry News: Leaf, Seed, and Flower Concerns

Q: Why is a sugar maple shedding leaves earlier this year?

Thursday, September 22, 2016  

Q: My sugar maple is shedding its leaves before the end of the summer season, which is earlier than normal. We have had drought conditions on Long Island, but the leaves have not fallen before under such conditions.

A: The drought has been quite severe for many parts of New York (mine included). Trees under drought stress will shed leaves, and that is likely what is happening to your tree. Since tree roots are active well into the late fall, I recommend that you water the tree--it won't bring back your tree's leaves, but will get the tree in better condition as it faces the winter. I recommend slow, deep watering under the canopy of the tree. You can do this by putting a hose on a slight trickle and leaving it in place for about a half hour, then moving it. Repeat the trickle/move cycle at least five times for a mature tree. This allows the water to soak into the soil rather than run off of it. Since you are in Long Island, where the soil tends to be sandier, you have less worry about runoff and so can leave the water running a bit faster if you wish. If you can, water every week until the regular rains return.

Responder: Barb Neal, RCA #428, Ithaca, NY