I usually write political letters, but the current Child in Chief isn’t worth bothering about lately so on to another topic affecting our fair Ciry of Great Bend.
Several years ago I managed townhomes in Lee’s Summit, Missouri and one summer we had a bit of a plague that affected our Pin Oak trees. Some three hundred of them to be exact. Lawn and Garden Specialists all gave us different reasons for varied treatments and most included the addition of iron products to the soil. None of these acutally worked. Our trees were being eaten alive by insects, the spring green leaves were riddled with brown spots and falling off in mid summer. “Spring Green” is the key here.
After hearing everyones suggestions and trying the best to no avail, I called a State Forester who arrived a day or two later to assess the situation. He said that I needed to get treatment started immediately. Wating for him to give me some long and tedious prognosis and treatment scheme, I was surprised when the solution was so very simple.
No doubt you have noticed many trees in Great Bend this summer and last that are only ‘spring green’ -- you know, that chartreuse green of early budded leaves... and NOT the dark green of summer that we should be seeing in August. You will also notice upon closer examination that some leaves are also spotted and dying. This is a condition called Chlorosis. It is a soil condition and it WILL kill the trees.... especially the hardwoods.
Through years of leaching the soils in our yards with rain water and sprinkler water whether from wells or from City supply, the soils tend to turn alkaline. Hardwoods like slightly acidic soils and after many years of extracting iron from the soils, the contrast in pH of the soils prohibits the tree’s use of the natural or added iron....Lawn and Garden stores locally tell me that Great Bend residents are buying iron supplements by the truck load. This will not hurt, but until you sweeten the soil, this iron will not be metabolized by the trees. The foresters told me to buy SULPHUR. It comes in a yellow powder form in twenty five pound bags at the Farmer’s Coop Garden Store and I’m sure a few other places as well.
The Sulphur will sweeten or acidize the soil and the tree will then be able to metabolize the available iron. Our sandy clay and mixed clay loams while not as iron laden as some other soils still have more iron than the trees need for decades but the imbalance in the pH is the culprit preventing the use of the iron. For best and quickest results use a deep root waterer and simply put the powdered sulphur in the container and connect to the garden hose...many times around the drip line of the tree. OR the easiest, simply scatter a few pounds per tree (two or three)on the ground under the tree, out to the drip line and water it in well! Treat NOW, again in a few weeks and I also repeated just before snowfall. The next spring our trees were glorious and by July were dark summer green and healthy. You will also notice that some trees are affected on one side, or just a few limbs. The roots that are servicing the affected limbs are in leached alkaline soil and the rest are in relatively acidic soil. Treat the WHOLE area around the tree. The sulphur will not harm your grass... water it in well however or simply let your sprinkler do the work.
Treat your trees to save them.