Heat, Drought Killing Mid-South Trees

By Jill Monier
Memphis, TN (August 21, 2007)- People aren’t the only ones suffering from the effects of the intense heat and blistering sun. Experts say the weather is having a devastating impact on trees in the Mid-South. Tree contractors in the area say business is booming. One contractor FOX13 spoke with said he’s taken down twice as many trees that have died from drought this year than last. Experts say, the trees that don’t die will likely suffer long-term effects.

Looking around the Mid-South, it might look more like a beautiful fall October than a brutally hot August. Despite a healthy amount of rain this month, the Mid-South is more than 14 inches below normal rainfall for the year. Wes Hopper, with the Tennessee Urban Forestry Council, said trees everywhere are feeling the pain. “When it has the inability to pull up water, eventually it shuts down certain parts of the tree,” he said. “It starts browning up and dying.”
Hopper said many trees are dying because from a lack of rain, but that many more are being scorched by the intense heat and sun. Some are just going dormant earlier than usual. “Big trees, fully mature, 90 foot just browning up, hard to tell if it will live or die,” he said.
One way to tell if a tree is dead is to scrape off a bit of the bark. If you see brown bark it means the limb is dead, but green bark the limb is still alive. Hopper is trying to rehab dead and dying trees in the Memphis Botanic Gardens. “We have a problem out here,” said Dr. Stan Myers, of the Memphis Botanic Gardens. The problem is isolated to the outlying areas of the property. While a couple of Dogwoods are dying, there is also evidence of scorching on several trees. “We do not have irrigation to rely on out here,” said Myers. “So, we’re dragging hoses like homeowners and sometimes we don’t get water out in a timely manner.”
“It’s been 10, 15, nearly 20 years since I’ve seen it this bad,” said Hopper. He advises watering everyday. Hopper is also advising people not to prune until the end of September. If you have a question about a dead or dying tree, a certified arborist will be able to help.
Related Resources:
Tennessee Urban Forestry Council
Neighbors For Trees
WHBQ Fox 13