Rainy weather

We certainly cannot complain about lack of rain in our area now. Other than a few days here and there it seems like it has been raining or threatening rain every day for the last month.

As everybody knows, plants need water to grow but what about getting too much rain? Speaking from the standpoint of trees and shrubs, one can’t help but notice how lush everything looks these days.

This summer’s extended wet weather may bring about a bumper crop of paw paws in the fall.

Credit: Unknown

Tree leaves are nice and big displaying bold colors in shades of green, purples or reds depending on the type of tree. Trees look very happy now. Some landowners who conducted recent tree plantings are reporting back, saying that their young seedlings have grown 3 to 4 feet tall in the past couple of months and are now extending above the top of the tree shelter that was installed to aid with their early development.

It is not uncommon for some trees like locust, sycamore, or maple to reach the top of the shelter but this normally occurs in September, not July. A resident of Myersville advised that the trees he planted in 2014 are 6 to 7 feet tall and they are beginning to droop under the weight of their large leaves.

The wet weather seems to be encouraging the development of fruits and nuts in some trees, especially the hickories. I have also seen some small oak acorns, spicebush fruits, and paw paws under development during this first week of July.

A local grower of paw paw reports that fruits normally begin development now but the amount of paw paw present portends to a bumper crop of paw paw this year.

Despite the rapid growth, these cool, cloudy, sticky conditions are beneficial for the development of bacterial and fungal diseases of trees and shrubs. Such ailments as anthracnose, powdery mildew, apple scab, fire blight, and a host of other diseases are likely to show up on leaf surfaces and other plant parts later in the season.

These wet conditions sometimes help fight the impacts of diseases like bacterial leaf scorch because the additional water helps infected plants remain hydrated after their vascular system is compromised by this disease. The conditions sometimes encourage disease that impacts undesirable insects like gypsy moth which helps control their populations.

Research has shown that damp, cool springs promote the development of a bacterium and virus that produces a natural control for this significant pest of our oak forests.

Experts offer a number of recommendations on how to keep plants healthy during overly rainy weather.

Some of the recommendations include:

  • Removing diseased parts from the plant if possible and discarding them away from the host.

  • Digging trenches around the plant to allow excess water to run off.

  • Culturing plants in raised beds.

  • Placing a few inches of mulch around the plant to soak up excess water (not too much though).

The judicious use of fungicides can be effective as well as long as the application is well-timed and you are using the right chemical.

Avoiding overcrowding of plants to increase air circulation around the individuals is another good strategy to avoid disease. It is also very important when planting to match the plant to the site.

A tree like white pine that likes drier, well-drained soils will not do well in a heavy, clay soil especially if it remains wet for extended periods of time.

Overall the effects of a month or so of wet weather is not going to severely impact most plants unless the plant is newly planted or it has been planted in an unsuitable location. Who knows, we might be complaining about the hot, dry weather a month from now.

Article by FCFCDB

Nature Notes for 7/26/2015