Thread: Late-summer drought

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  1. #1
    Oak
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Central Indiana
    Posts
    562

    Late-summer drought

    Well, it looks like we're having a late-summer drought here in central Indiana (and the Midwest generally). After a very wet June, we had below-average rainfall in July and the dry spell continues now in August.

    I have a baby forest--seedlings planted in the spring of 2006. I watered them throughout our drought in 2007. Should I do so again? They're a lot bigger now, of course, which means they'll need more water. Ugh. But I don't want to lose them. My inclination is to just let nature take its course and do the thinning for me now so that I don't have to cut trees down in about five years.

    Should I water or watch survival of the fittest play out?

  2. #2
    Oak
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    Northern Minnesota-zone 3
    Posts
    300

    RE: Late-summer drought

    I'd water them. You placed an investment in them already. Why lose them after 5 years?

    If you're having unusual weather, then give them the boost now. Though at the same time, at 5 years, they should be established and the ones that would die would mostly be the ones that weren't doing well to begin with.

  3. #3
    Oak
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    Western NY, Zone 6
    Posts
    348

    RE: Late-summer drought

    I agree with snowguy, give them a good, slow watering, preferably from a drip hose for 2-3 hours. Deeper, more infrequent waterings are the way to go, no one has the patience to stand out there with the hose nozzle spraying for 45 minutes straight. Look into "gator" bags as well, you fill them with several gallons of water and they will slowly water your trees over a day or two. The deeper you water, the better, this encourages roots to expand further into the ground in search of water. Even though you've been dry recently in Indiana, your lower level soil moisture levels are probably still fairly good.

    We've had similar weather our here in WNY - we had over 9" of rain in June but were dry most of July, until the last week or so where we approached near normal precip. levels by the end of the month. We've been fairly dry so far in August, but the Climate Prediction Center is calling for a wet end to August for the Northeast US. I'm hoping we have more copious amounts of rain in the upcoming weeks...

  4. #4
    Oak
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    Indiana
    Posts
    198

    Re: RE: Late-summer drought

    Quote Originally Posted by Upperhand
    I agree with snowguy, give them a good, slow watering, preferably from a drip hose for 2-3 hours.
    I'm doubting he can string a hose to this baby forest or it wouldn't be such an issue. I kind of have a similar issue. I can water things within 100 ft or so of a spigot pretty easily, but more remote trees are a problem. I just spent 4 hours Monday hauling small drinks to a bunch of trees. The trees in the unmaintained areas are on their own. Luckily, many of those are in a low lying, even swampy area that I'm not too worried about.

    My small trees are in their 1st, 2nd or 3rd year, at most. I have some bigger transplants in their 2nd and 3rd years. I would think 6th year seedlings would be very well established and not need supplementary water. I would probably just pick specific ones you were worried about.

    Luckily, I got a decent shower today. Last week I had about a 3 hour lightning storm, severe thunderstorm warnings and not a single drop of rain. That was annoying.

  5. #5
    Oak
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    Northern Minnesota-zone 3
    Posts
    300

    RE: Late-summer drought

    If you ahve some kind of wheelbarrow or cart, fill the biggest jug you have and water say 5 or 6 trees a bit at a time in a repeating fashion until the jug is empty and then repeat. That way the water has time to sink in but you're not standing there forever for one tree.

    If you do that they should get enough water as long as it's not WAAAy too dry.

  6. #6
    Oak
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Central Indiana
    Posts
    562

    RE: Late-summer drought

    I have over 1500 trees, so we're not talking about running a hose and slow watering! In 2006, when they had only been in the ground a year or so, I watered them about six times, giving each baby seedling about a gallon of water every time.

    I have a couple of large tanks that I put in the back of the pickup, run a hose from them and let gravity do its job.

    My plan is to only water a few trees--new ones I've added the past couple of years, ones that are looking bad, and the ones for which I paid the most money. In addition to DNR seedlings, I've gone crazy with various other trees in smaller quantities--especially oaks, both species and hybrid oaks. Some of them cost me real money beyond the few cents each for DNR trees.

    It threatened rain here last evening. The storm formed and it rained very little, very briefly--all to the east of us. Not a drop on my land. No chance of rain again until Saturday . . . when they are predicting scattered thunderstorms again. Then, all clear and hot again . . .

  7. #7
    Oak
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    Western NY, Zone 6
    Posts
    348

    RE: Late-summer drought

    LOL...I missed the part about "baby forest", didn't realize you were talking about a vat of trees vs. a few planted in your landscape in the backyard. All you can do is rely on Nature for rain, and hope that the trees can survive the dry weather, then catch up in the Fall when the rains and cooler weather return. Only the fittest will survive, some will inevitably die off but the majority should survive the dry spell...

  8. #8
    Oak
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Central Indiana
    Posts
    562

    RE: Late-summer drought

    Watered a few trees this evening. For the record, I planted the baby forest in the spring of 2006 and watered them through the drought of 2007. Screwed up my dates in that earlier post . . . and just corrected it now.

  9. #9
    Oak
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Central Indiana
    Posts
    562

    RE: Late-summer drought

    The drought continues. The last time we had any rain at all on our place was Wednesday, July 28th. There have a been some scattered storms and showers in surrounding areas, but not a drop here. Four weeks tomorrow . . . and clear skies predicted for the next few days.

    Most of my "baby" trees are holding up fine. Only a few are showing signs of the dry spell. Some of the black walnuts and the tulip trees have yellowing and loss of leaves. Of course, the walnuts usually lose their foliage earlier than other trees in a normal year. Still, this is early.

    I expect to lose some trees to this drought. But I hope it won't continue very much longer. In the meantime, I water a few almost every day. The ground is so dry that the water doesn't even pool at the base of the tree--it just soaks right in. No way I can afford the time and money to deep water very many of them. But I'll do what I can to help a few out.
    And I'll keep praying for rain . . .

  10. #10
    Oak
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    Western NY, Zone 6
    Posts
    348

    RE: Late-summer drought

    Don't sweat it, even though some of those trees may be showing signs of drought stress now, they could bounce back and survive in the long run. They'll be better off for it too, because in the future those trees will have developed resistance to drought. I always tell people the same thing with lawns - let them go brown in the Summer during hot spells and drought, the lawn is just dormant and WILL bounce back in the Fall, the lawn will also be hardier to drought and will grow more vigorously the following Spring. Nature has its way of compensating for slowed growth and reduced vigor during not-so-ideal weather conditions.

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