Posted in Horticulture

Tree Recovery from Storms

Between the May 11 and June 3 storms, we’ve sure seen our fair share of severe weather already this year. The streets of Exeter were completely covered with leaves and branches with the aftermath of the June 3 storms. Trees that were pushed over at an angle should be cut down, as a portion of the roots on the windward side of the tree are know broken and a mature tree rarely survives and can be a hazard. Young trees planted less than four years ago may survive if they are gently pulled back into a vertical position and staked. Special care should be given to very gently press out any air spaces that may have form in the loosened soil and water the root system twice each week if dry through November.

This photo doesn't even do justice to the amount of damage to some areas from a recent storm. Some streets were covered with leaves and completely green. Time will tell how the trees will fare.
This photo doesn’t even do justice to the amount of damage to some areas from a recent storm. Some streets were covered with leaves and completely green. Time will tell how the trees will fare.

Most of the damage observed was broken or twisted branches. UNL extension horticulturalists remind homeowners that safety should be considered first and a certified arborist should be contacted to remove large branches or to work in tall trees. All loose or hanging branches should be removed as soon as possible. Branches that are cracked, split or twisted should be removed next. Branch stubs left by storm damage should be give a clean cut, using good technique so that stubs are eliminated but only branch wood is removed. This results in a smaller wound, allows the tree to seal the wound more effectively and minimizes the chance of entry by wood decay fungi into the trunk.

Trees split down the middle are very difficult to brace adequately, and should be removed by a professional arborist. Major damage includes the stripping of 50% or more of plant foliage, pocks or tears in tree bark with damage to the underlying xylem and phloem tissues, shearing of evergreen buds from branch terminals, death of evergreen buds due to impact damage, and broken tree or shrub branches.

In most cases, homeowners should take a “wait and see” attitude. Trees and shrubs should be kept well watered throughout summer and fall to avoid drought stress. Winter watering during warm periods when soil is not frozen is also recommended if winter conditions are dry. Keep plants well mulched to prevent secondary injury from mowers and string trimmers.

Secondary pests, such as borers and aphids, should be controlled to avoid additional stresses. Sphaeropsis tip blight can be a serious problem in Austian and Pondersosa pine trees the year following serious hail injury. Fungicide applications should be planned for next spring to keep infection to a minimum. Do not fertilize trees and shrubs to “help them recover.” Fertilizer is detrimental at this point. Never apply a wound dressing, pruning paint or “wrap” to any wounds, including hail wounds as this can interfere with the trees own response to closing the wound. Wait to begin pruning until after new growth begins, then prune away any dead or broken branches.

If you are interested in learning more about potential tree pests that might harm your tree, plan to attend UNL Extension’s “Tree Pest & Emerald Ash Borer Update” on June 24th at Heritage Crossings in Geneva. This FREE program will start at 6:00 p.m. Please RSVP to the Extension Office at 402-759-3712 by June 23rd for planning purposes. Elizabeth Killinger, Extension Educator will be the presenter and discuss tree pests and provide an emerald ash borer update.

(Source: UNL’s Backyard Farmer website at on Hail Damaged Plants)

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