How to Diagnose the Cause of Dying Tree Branches
How to Diagnose the Cause of Dying Tree Branches. If you have a tree whose branches appear to be dying, it's important that you diagnose the cause so that you can remedy the problem. There are various potential causes of problems in a tree, so follow these steps to diagnose the cause of dying tree branches.
Determine if the tree was transplanted into its current location recently. Sometimes if a tree doesn't receive enough moisture after transplanting, it can die or exhibit problems.
Check if any construction, fertilizing or spraying has taken place near the tree in the months before the tree's branches began to die. For example, if construction workers piled extra soil on top of the tree's root system, the dirt could deprive the roots of their oxygen supply, leading to dying branches.
Understand that uncharacteristic weather conditions can result in tree problems. For example, an early freeze, late freeze or drought conditions can result in dying leaves and branches on some trees.
Look for brown spots, chewed holes or other insect damage on the tree. In addition, look for the insects themselves that could cause damage to the tree. There could also be a fungal, bacterial or viral infection of the tree. Look for signs of these such as round leaf spots, irregular leaf spots or distortion of the tree, respectively.
Perform a soil test of the soil surrounding the tree. You may find that the tree doesn't have the necessary nutrients for survival.
Black Locust Tree Has Dying Branches
Canker disease will cause foliage on affected branches to wilt and turn yellow or brown. Water the tree every 10 days when it does not rain. Measure the diameter of the tree trunk 4 feet up and spread 1 pound of fertilizer per inch of trunk diameter over the soil beneath the tree canopy. Large fungal growths may also form on the rotted wood. They mine into the branches up to 6 inches from the tip, causing the end of the branch to die. Branches infested with beetles should be pruned off and burned immediately to keep the beetles from infesting other trees. Roundheaded or longhorned borers commonly attack diseased or damaged trees that are already dying. Holes can be seen in the bark as well as dark oozing sap. If they have weakened the trunk, the tree may need to be removed. Spots of dark sap are the first sign of carpenterworm infestation, accompanied by frass and sawdust at the point of entry. The galleries eventually reach a diameter of 1/2 inch and length of 6 to 10 inches. Infested branches should be pruned off.
- Soil test
- Cal Poly: Urban Forest Ecosystems Institute: Black Locust: Robinia Pseudoacacia
- University of California Agriculture & Natural Resources: UC IPM Online: Pests in Gardens and Landscapes: Locust, Black Locust -- Robinia spp.*: Family Fabaceae (Pea Family)
- University of California Agriculture & Natural Resources: UC IPM Online: Pests in Gardens and Landscapes: Canker Diseases
- Washington State University: Puyallup Research and Extension Center: The Myth of Cloroxed Clippers
- Invasive Plant Atlas of the United States: Black Locust
- North Carolina State University: Watering Shrubs
- North Carolina State University: A Gardener’s Guide to Fertilizing Trees and Shrubs
- University of California Agriculture & Natural Resources: UC IPM Online: Pests in Gardens and Landscapes: Wood Decay Fungi in Landscape Trees
- University of California Agriculture & Natural Resources: UC IPM Online: Pests in Gardens and Landscapes: Bark Beetles
- University of California Agriculture & Natural Resources: UC IPM Online: Pests in Gardens and Landscapes: Roundheaded (Longhorned) Borers