pH Matters

In our last blog post we mentioned that some of our clients were seeing some yellowing, blotchy leaves falling from their Crab Apple trees. We mentioned that with the spring being as cool, damp and protracted as it was, all types of fungus and blight issues flourish in those conditions. We mentioned that just because we treat your trees against Apple Scab fungus, it does not mean that certain other fungus or blights might not be an issue in some years. Certain fungus and blights are not really treatable, and if they are, they might require different products, treatment timing & even more applications than what is required to treat Apple Scab or Rust issues.

The bottom line is that Apple Scab disease is the most debilitating fungus of all, and even though this may be a tough year for fungal and blight issues, your trees will still look really good if they are being treated by us. They might not be as perfect as they have looked in prior years, but they will be, without a doubt, better than in the years before you started having your trees treated.

That being said, we are also looking into whether the Apple Scab Fungus in some of our treatment areas is developing a certain tolerance to the products that we have used for many years on the Crabs that we treat. Additionally, we are noticing that the pH of the local water supply has been rising increasing from 7.5 to 8.3 pH in recent years. It is well known in our industry that the higher the pH level, the harder it is for insecticides and fungicides to work to their full potential. This is why when homeowners spray their bushes with hose sprayers or those one-gallon pump sprayers, they often claim the products they buy at local nurseries or hardware stores do not seem to work very well. Besides the fact that these are inexpensive products, compared to products we use, the pH also needs to be lowered to get results. The product labels don’t mention the pH level, however, because they don’t want to make it seem so confusing that people will avoid buying the product.

So what does all of this mean going forward?

Tree care is a very, very complex field. Situations and conditions are constantly changing and we do everything we can do to stay up-to-date and adapt to those conditions.

We work in cooperation with another tree company from Wisconsin who takes what they do as seriously as we do. Comparing notes, they determined that the local Apple Scab spores might be developing a tolerance to the product mixture that they used. They had the same issue in Wisconsin years ago, made some changes, and got great results from making those changes. We plan to implement those changes in Illinois in 2017.

First, we are further reducing the pH of the local water that we use by adding water softening products to the water. Additionally, in the case of Apple Scab, we will be adding an additional fungicidal product that works with an additional mode of action.

Insect Problems for Western Suburbs’ Trees

You might think that the bitterly cold and harsh winter would affect the insect population in our area.  Yet, it appears the cold winter did not affect insect populations at all. We are actually seeing increases in insect activity.

What to look for? Many insect problems result in sap dripping from your trees.  If your car windshield, deck, patio furniture or kids toys are sticky, you have insect problems. If you see shiny spots of sap on leaves on the lower portions of a tree, or even if your grass feels sticky as you walk on it, you have an insect problem which can be quickly and easily rectified.  A few examples include:

Locust Plant Bugs. If you have a locust tree, and the younger leaves at the ends of the branches are curling and browning slightly, you have Locust Plant Bugs. When you sit on your deck or patio on breezy days and your head is itching, you might see tiny, bright green bugs on your arm.  Those are Locust Plant Bugs.

locust trees
The Locust on the left is under our care. The locust on the right is not.

Magnolia Scale Pods on Magnolia, Cottony Maple Scale Pods on Maples and Lecanium Scale Pods.  These different pods all contain insects that are protected within the pods. These insects have one thing in common; they suck the sap from the tree, weakening it, and their bodies excrete a sticky honeydew which drips from the pods, causing sap drippage.  Later, when the insects emerge from the pods, they excrete the same sticky honeydew from their bodies.
lecanium scale pods on crab tree
This photo shows Lecanium Scale pods on a Crab tree.  They appear to be tiny bumps on the branch that looks like lady bugs.

Examples of other Scale pods can be viewed here. These are just a few examples of what you might notice on your property this year and in years to come. Treating trees for these problems can be extremely effective, but only when using the most effective insecticides along with proper timing. Spraying too early, before the insects emerge from the pods, will have no effect on them.

Tree Green wants to work with you to assure the health of your trees.   Please call our office at 630.668.4350 or email us  if you notice an insect problem or other situation affecting the health of your trees.  A Tree Green Arborist will be out to explain what is going on.