Japanese beetle life cycle. Credit: Rainbow Treecare Scientific Advancements
The Japanese beetle, Popillia japonica, has emerged to wreak havoc on your shade trees. Native to Japan, Japanese beetles are an invasive species that was first detected in the United States in 1916 (Rainbow Treecare, 2021). Due to its lack of predators in the US, it has been able to quickly spread and become rampant within this country.
Close up of Japanese beetle. Credit: Arborjet.
You can identify the Japanese beetle based on its iridescent appearance, with a green head and copper wing coverings. It has small tufts of white hair along the outside of its wing coverings. It has a glossy appearance
The beetle feeds on over 400 species of shade trees and bushes (Rainbow Treecare, 2021). The beetle feeds by eating the leaf matter in between the leaf’s veins, leaving a skeleton appearance. If this happens to enough leaves, the beetles can easily kill your trees and shrubs, as the plant will no longer be able to photosynthesize. The beetles send out a signal to other beetles when they have found an acceptable plant host, sending more beetles into your yard.
Japanese beetles feeding on leaf. Credit: The Tree Center
So how do you get rid of Japanese beetles? One effective solution is a combination of a soil injection as well as a foliar spray to take care of any live beetles currently feeding on the leaves. It is important to begin foliar sprays at the beginning of adult feeding on plant matter, otherwise, the infestation can grow out of hand as beetles send out signals that attract even more beetles. If you think you have a Japanese beetle infestation, please contact our office at 417-863-6214 and we can schedule an estimate for our Plant Healthcare technician to take a look at your trees and discuss your treatment options.
Once you reduce a tree down to a stump, it may seem like that is the end of the tree’s lifespan. However, this is not always the case for stumps. Sometimes, a tree can remain alive – with a little help from its neighbors.
Scientists recently found a kauri stump in New Zealand that is very much still alive. The stump, which is pictured above, was discovered while Sebastian Leuzinger was on a hike. Leuzinger noticed that this tree had live tissue, as opposed to the deadwood of a regular tree stump. Living stumps have been documented since 1833, but this is the first instance of this occurring (that we have found, at least) in the kauri tree (Ed Yong, The Atlantic).
This stump can only be kept alive one way: by exchanging nutrients and water with the trees surrounding it. The exchange of materials between trees is not a new phenomenon, trees have been found to use fungi to transfer nutrients from tree to tree. However, for this kauri stump to stay alive, it most definitely is connected to one or more trees via a root graft. In a root graft, the roots of two or more plants grow together and connect, allowing them to directly share resources without the help of fungi. Up to 150 species of trees are known to form root grafts (Kelly Mayes, Science).
Another thing that makes living stumps remarkable is the anatomy of the tree. How it is set up, the tree can only pull water up from its roots to its canopy. This action occurs as water evaporates off of the leaves, which then pulls up more water to take its place.
“The stump’s water flows at a fifth the speed of its neighbors’, but it does flow. The speed of that flow depends on what the surrounding trees are doing. If the neighbors’ sap flows faster, the stump’s sap flows slower. But if the neighbors reduce transpiration, whether at night or during heavy rain, the stump’s sap starts racing. This suggests that it isn’t just a passive part of its neighbors’ roots. Instead, it seemingly uses their downtime to gain more water” (Ed Yong, The Atlantic).
This is quite a remarkable find. While there is no evidence that all tree species can do this, and root grafting can only occur between two or more compatible species, this still has implications for the tree service business. So if you have a stump in your yard that looks exceptionally alive or that you notice has living tissue rather than exclusively deadwood, you might have a living stump on your hands! A living stump does not pose any danger to your yard if it is left alone, and in fact, damage can occur to the living trees if root separation is attempted.
If you would like to know more about our Stump Grinding services, click here!
Dutch elm disease (DED) is caused by an aggressive fungus (Ophiostoma novo-ulmi) that kills elms regardless of their health. It is considered the most costly shade tree disease ever and will remain active in a community as long as there are susceptible trees. The fungus invades the water transporting vessels and produces toxins to which the tree reacts. In defense to the toxins, the tree produces gums and internal growths designed to block the advance of the fungus. The combination of the toxins and the defense mechanisms of the tree inhibit water flow to the crown, which causes wilting and tree death.
How Does Dutch Elm Disease Spread?
Female elm bark beetles lay their eggs beneath the bark of dead and dying elm trees. If the elm is infected with Dutch elm disease the newly hatched beetles will emerge from the tree carrying the deadly fungus on their bodies. The beetles fly to healthy trees and feed on its 2 – 4 year old branches, thereby spreading the disease.
Besides beetle transmission, Dutch elm disease may also be spread through grafted roots. When elms grow in proximity to each other, their roots can come into contact and graft together. This common root system provides the fungus with a pathway to spread through an entire stand of healthy elms very quickly.
What are the Symptoms of DED?
Dutch elm disease symptoms begin to develop 4 – 6 weeks after infection. The first noticeable symptom that results from the fungal occupation of the water-conducting vessels is wilting or “flagging” of one or more branches, usually starting at the branch tip. Leaves on infected branches turn dull green to yellow, curl, and become dry and brittle. As the infection spreads the wood beneath the bark displays brown discoloration.
What Can I do if My Tree is Already Infected?
Most infected elms cannot be saved. In rare cases, if the fungus has not moved into the root system, physically cutting out infected portions of the tree, with a process called tracing, can save the elm.
Sanitation is the most important tool for controlling Dutch elm disease on a community-wide basis. It involves the identification and removal of diseased elms. Such practices eliminate beetle breeding sites and reduce the number of disease-carrying beetles.
Dutch elm disease can pass from infected trees into healthy trees through grafted roots. Macro-infusion of Arbotect does not prevent root graft infections. The only way to reliably prevent root graft transmission of the fungus is to physically sever the common root system.
How Can I Protect my Elm Tree?
The goal when protecting elms from the fungus is to evenly and completely distribute a fungicide chemical thorough the entire canopy of the tree.
To protect a tree from beetle-transmitted fungal infection, Arbotect fungicide must be evenly and completely distributed throughout the 2 – 4 year old branches.
The only way to get even distribution is by the tree injection method called macro-infusion. Macro-infusion injects a large volume of solution into the root flares of the tree. This solution is then transported throughout the canopy providing a protective fungicide barrier.
Arbortect fungicide does not protect elms from root graft infection. You need to physically server the root system from neighboring trees by trenching at least 36″ down.
Below is an article Noel, our owner, recently wrote for TCI Magazine on employee retention through engagement
We all know how hard it is to find good help right now. While hiring great help is a challenge, it’s just the first part of building a great staff. Your company is probably a mix of experienced help, untrained new hires and everything in between. Maybe you are still trying to figure out which members of your team you want to retain and which ones you might need to “release to their destiny.” When do you start to invest in an employee’s long-term future in your company? More importantly, how are you going to retain your best people?
Compensation, security, growth, and management are just a few pieces of the employee-retention puzzle. Another element, and the one I want to focus on most for this article, is engagement. When employees are engaged, it means they are fully absorbed by and enthusiastic about their work. They are more likely to take positive actions to further the organization’s reputation and interests. Engaged employees feel they can make a difference and want to be a part of something larger than just their own position. Engaged employees are happier and more productive and are connected with each other.
Before I lay out some strategies to get your team more engaged, I must confess that I have failed in this endeavor numerous times in my own company. I have a small team of 13 people, and we have a very low turnover rate. Most of my employees have been with me for more than five years. But on several occasions, I have kept a productive employee around who I was not able to engage in our ethos of teamwork and constant improvement. Sure, they could climb a tree and operate machinery, but their unwillingness to buy in and become a part of our team culture led to other crew members not wanting to work with them and a general negative attitude within the ranks. Employee retention cannot be about keeping every employee; it has to be about keeping and engaging the best people and removing the ones who damage your company spirit.
Some of the basic tenets for engaging your employees are:
• Employees who understand their goals and how they relate to the company’s goals are more engaged.
• Employees who receive regular feedback and rewards are more engaged.
• Employees who are given opportunities to grow, learn and advance are more engaged.
I know, I just made it sound so easy. But we all know that none of these are as easy as they sound. I will share a few ways we have found to accomplish these goals in our company, with the disclaimer that what works in our culture may not work in yours. Because we are such a small company, we are able to employ many informal practices that may not be possible in larger companies. Engagement looks different in every company!
When it comes to understanding goals, there are countless ways to accomplish the task. I used to work at a company where each employee’s production was posted on a chart on the wall, where you could see your goals and compare them to others’. It worked there, but I chose a different route for our company because of my concerns that that system might cause more emphasis on competition within the company than teamwork and common goals.
We operate as an “open-book” company, so any employee can see where the money comes from and where it goes at any point in time. This gives all employees a better view of the big picture, and we welcome ideas from all team members on how we can be more efficient and profitable. As the company grows and becomes more profitable, all team members reap the benefits. Last year, every employee in our company received two raises because of their engaged efforts to raise the bar on quality and production.
For number two, feedback and rewards, we are always looking for better ways to let each team member know where he or she stands. To be honest, this practice is a very difficult one to manage in a company of any size. Part of the issue is that some team members really want to have the formal written employee review, while others prefer to just be pulled aside for a conversation about improvement – or a very public, kick-ass high five in front of everyone for their successes. We try to do a combination of both, although it is a struggle to make the time for formal reviews.
One other reward we use in our company is called “F-yeah Friday.” There are many weeks when we all get to the end of the day on Friday and everyone can just feel that we have had a really great week. We all gave 100%, nothing got broken, quality was top-notch and we worked safely. While there is no numeric formula that designates it as an “F-yeah Friday,” it is a feeling of team accomplishment that leads to the occasional unexpected meeting at the end of the day where everyone gets a few hundred dollars of cash from my checking account and a frosty beer while we talk about what our weekend plans are. While I eat the expense personally, it is worth it to provide them immediate feedback and reward for high performance as a team.
Of the three engagement tenets above, I most enjoy giving my crew opportunities to grow, learn and advance. One of our strongest cultural values is personal improvement. We encourage and reward credentialing. Because of the focus we put on certifications, we have two ISA Board Certified Master Arborists and seven more ISA Certified Arborists in a company of 13 people. While it takes time to get the ball rolling, I have found that once you get buy-in from a few, the interest in becoming certified becomes contagious. Another part of our investment in advancement is our company participation in the tree-climbing championship circuit. As a former competitor, I know how the competitions fueled my fire as I grew as an arborist. Now we have a company bus we take to several comps each year (except this year, as all were canceled!), and most of our team either compete or volunteer at the events. After every trip, the climbers on the crew can’t wait to use the new tricks and techniques they learned. The crew members also become emotionally engaged because of their exposure to a much larger view of our industry, instead of seeing only our little corner of the world.
I have many friends in the tree care business who have even better employee-retention rates than our company, and in every case, the reason is that their team is fully engaged and pushing together to be a success. Unfortunately, there is not room in this article to compile all the methods being implemented, but I am excited to have shared a few things that have worked well within our team. I encourage you to think of ways you might look past the usual tools of employee retention, like compensation and benefits. We will almost always find employees who are willing to stay if the money is right, but employees driven solely by income can poison your company’s culture. It is also unfortunate that some good employees will leave your company for personal reasons, even after you have trained them to proficiency. While it is disappointing to see a good employee leave after you have trained them, your company will suffer more if you don’t invest in them and they never go away.
If you would like to read this article on the TCI Magazine website, click here!
All About Trees is caring for Springfield’s urban forest, one tree at a time.
We’ve all had experiences with a customer who, no matter what you do, you just can’t make happy. Maybe you didn’t prune enough, maybe you pruned too much. The price was too high, the grass got torn up or you made them go inside because they kept entering the drop zone under the trees. Regardless of the complaint, they claim their expectations of how the job would be done were not met.
Noel cutting a tree limb, which is part of the tree removal process.
The very first step is to look within the company first. Did the salesperson do a good job of communicating the right expectations? Were the specifications for the job written clearly, with concise details of the work to be performed? Did the crew do exactly what was on the work order? Were they careless in protecting the customer’s property? Were they polite and willing to listen to the client’s complaints, and make every reasonable attempt to make them happy?
In many cases, we discover that we didn’t do a good job of building the right expectations, and then we must engage in conflict-resolution strategies. It also leads to us writing more verbose specifications, especially if we anticipate that the client may be difficult.
Sometimes, after all these assessments have been looked at honestly, we discover that we are working for a person who is simply unreasonable. I have had numerous clients through the years who make it a practice to complain after every single job. I have had customers (often lawyers!) who refuse to pay for the beautiful deadwooding job we did, because they actually just wanted the tree topped. I have been burned to the ground in online reviews over trees that weren’t ever discussed or included on the work order.
In our company, we make every reasonable effort to resolve these issues. Our reputation is our second-most valuable asset – our employees, our first. We do have a limit, however, to how much we will let someone take advantage of our good spirit.
We keep a list of exceptionally difficult clients so that when or if they call back, we simply tell them we are politely bowing out, and they will need to find a new provider. If a client is mean or cussing at my office staff, they immediately get fired as a customer. While we don’t like losing the income from this type of client, we have always found a boost in morale when we announce to the staff that they will never have to endure them again.
Continuing to work for such unreasonable clients is certainly setting your team up for failure.
Proper pruning in late winter leads to strong, lush trees and shrubs in the springtime
Pruning cuts are made slightly beyond the branch collar.
Pruning cuts are made slightly beyond the branch collar. COURTESY OF JOHNSON COUNTY K-STATE RESEARCH & EXTENSION
BY DENNIS PATTON for Kansas City Star (MO), FEBRUARY 12, 2020 03:42 PM
Does pruning strike more fear in your heart than a trip to the doctor? Pruning sounds complicated, but once you understand the basic guidelines, the rest falls into place.
PROPER PRUNING IN LATE WINTER – KNOW WHERE TO MAKE THE CUT
Most people hesitate knowing where to make the cut. Discerning “where” does not mean which specific limb needs to be removed. It means where precisely on the branch the cut is to be made.
Every pruning cut should be made at the point where there is another branch, fork, crotch angle or new bud forming. Making the cut at a growth point reduces the chance of decay and uncontrolled growth. Directing new growth is the goal of pruning, not merely pruning to remove growth.
Pruning to this juncture removes tall overgrown limbs, reduces plant height and thins out the plant. When extreme weather impacts our neighborhoods, pruning will reduce the weight of snow, ice and wind, which can lead to branch failure.
The energy that once supported the removed limb is now channeled into the growth of the remaining limbs. It is important to understand the concept of directional pruning.
The direction of the remaining limb or bud will point to where the growth will head. Attempting to control height? Prune to a side-pointing limb. Need to reduce spread? Prune to an upward pointing limb. Tired of the low-hanging limb hitting you in the face? Find a branch growing upward. See how this works?
Removing a limb back to another branch thins out a tree or shrub for better light penetration and less wind resistance. Not only does this apply to shade trees, but flowering and fruit trees as well. More sunlight penetrating the plant will lead to more flowering and fruit development.
HOW TO MAKE THE CUT
Now that you are confident in knowing where to make the cut, the next step is to do it properly. Pruning is an injury to the plant or tree, wounding the wood. The goal is to quickly heal the wound with a correctly made cut.
Pruning cuts are made slightly beyond the branch collar, where a layer of cambium growth has the ability of rapidly sealing off the cut. The branch collar is the raised, rough growth of bark tissue at the crotch angle. Remember, the cut is always made back to a branch angle.
Try to avoid cutting to the outside of the branch collar as it will leave a slight bump. We want to steer clear of creating a stub, a longer piece of wood sticking out. Stubs do not heal and lead to decay or uncontrolled growth. Cutting too close results in a flush cut, which removes the bark collar, leaving a bigger wound. A larger wound is slower to seal and increases the chance of decay.
Tree pruning is done in late winter before new growth. The lack of foliage reveals problem areas, making it easier to know which limbs to remove. Spring is a time of rapid growth for quick recovery. Now go forth and prune. I have confidence in your abilities.
Dennis Patton is a horticulture agent with Kansas State University Research and Extension. Got a question for him or other university extension experts? Email them to [email protected].
Leaves carry out photosynthesis, making food for the tree and releasing oxygen into the air. And this tells us much about their shapes. For example, the narrow needles of a Douglas fir can expose as much as three acres of chlorophyll surface to the sun.
The lobes, leaflets, and jagged edges of many broad leaves have their uses, too. They help evaporate the water used in food-building, reduce wind resistance and even provide “drip tips” to shed rain that, left standing, could decay the leaf.
Branches and Twigs
Branches and twigs grow out of the tree trunk and serve as support structures for leaves, flowers, and fruit. Branches are the main “limbs” of the tree, whereas the twigs are smaller and come off of the branches. They also transport materials between the trunk and the leaves.
The trunk of a tree is made up of five different layers.
The outer bark is the tree’s protection from the outside world. Continually renewed from within, it helps keep out moisture in the rain and prevents the tree from losing moisture when the air is dry. It insulates against cold and heat and wards off insect enemies.
The inner bark, or “phloem,” is the pipeline through which food is passed to the rest of the tree. It lives for only a short time then dies and turns to cork to become part of the protective outer bark.
The cambium cell layer is the growing part of the trunk. It annually produces new bark and new wood in response to hormones that pass down through the phloem with food from the leaves. These hormones, called “auxins,” stimulate growth in cells. Auxins are produced by leaf buds at the ends of branches as soon as they start growing in the spring.
Sapwood is the tree’s pipeline for water moving up to the leaves. Sapwood is new wood. As newer rings of sapwood are laid down, inner cells lose their vitality and turn to heartwood.
Heartwood is the central, supporting pillar of the tree. Although dead, it will not decay or lose strength while the outer layers are intact. A composite of hollow, needlelike cellulose fibers bound together by a chemical glue called lignin, it is in many ways as strong as steel. Set vertically, a 1″ x 2″ cross-section that is 12″ long can support twenty tons!
Contrary to popular belief, tree roots are typically found in the top three feet of the soil. As well, they expand well beyond the dripline, often occupying an area two to four times the size of the tree crown.
A tree’s root system works to absorb water and minerals from the soil, anchor the tree to the ground, and store food reserves for the winter. It is made up of two kinds of roots: large perennial roots and smaller, short-lived feeder roots.
Want to read more of our articles? Click here to read about the benefits of trees!
“Anatomy of a Tree.” Advanced Search-The Tree Guide at Arborday.org, The Arbor Day Foundation, www.arborday.org/trees/TreeGuide/anatomy.cfm.
One of the most frustrating things to deal with this time of year is having a deer snack on your beloved plants! Even if you are the type of person to tolerate deer damage because you love them, beware! Deer are creatures of habit. Once they feel safe and find a tasty snack, they will visit regularly.
An increase in deer populations and a decrease in their natural habitat have set up a situation in which your favorite landscapes become alternative food sources for deer. As winter approaches and food sources become scarce, feeding on leaves, stems, and buds of plants becomes more apparent. Male deer also cause damage by rubbing their antlers along the trunks of trees, stripping off the bark. Deer should be discouraged immediately. Trees and shrubs can suffer permanent damage. Deer damage is usually identified by the torn or jagged appearance of branches
There are four ways to discourage deer: Fencing, repellents, predators, and deer-resistant plants.
Fencing requires you to enclose your entire yard with a fence at least six feet tall. This is not necessarily an aesthetically pleasing option and also not cost effective. In some cases, you can put barrier fencing around these individual plants. While it is still unsightly, protecting a tree while it is young is important.
Homemade and commercial repellents are common control methods to discourage deer, but their effectiveness varies. Snow and rainfall wash them away, so frequent applications are needed. Also, if food sources are scarce, deer may simply ignore the repellents, despite the taste or odor.
As far as predators go, a noisy dog is a good deer deterrent. If you don’t have a dog, you can hang shiny tape from branches, or place inflated balls, and other moving objects in the yard to startle deer with sudden movement. You’ll have to rotate these frequently, however, or deer will soon realize that they are not in danger from these objects.
If they are hungry enough and food is scarce enough, deer will eat almost anything. However, there are a number of plants that deer don’t find particularly palatable. Using these plants in your landscape is often the most cost-effective, least time-consuming, and most aesthetically pleasing solution.
Below is a list of trees and shrubs not favored by deer. However, the resistance of any plant species may change due to environmental factors.
Always check to make sure that the plant is not invasive before you plant it!
We’ve noticed an increase in calls concerning yellowing needles in customer’s evergreens, especially White Pines. However, the “problem” is simply seasonal needle drop in trees. This is a normal and natural process in evergreen trees. Every year, evergreens experience a seasonal needle drop that is a normal part of the plant’s cycle. Older needles on the inside of evergreen trees are shed each fall after they turn yellow, brown, or reddish-tan in color. Sometimes this natural process is very subtle and goes unnoticed because only the innermost needles area affected. The change can be gradual, or, with some species, quite rapid. Seasonal needle drop in trees can cause concern to homeowners who are not familiar with this natural occurrence.
White pines show the most dramatic needle drop change! Their annual loss of needles can be especially alarming, as the number of yellow needles outnumbers the tree’s green growth. This can be very worrying to a tree owner! Typically, white pines will retain needles for three years, but in autumn, 2-or-3-year-old needles will change color and drop, leaving only the current season’s growth still attached.
So if you are seeing your evergreen trees drop yellow needles, this is part of their natural process. However, if you are seeing widespread decay within your tree, then please call the office to schedule an estimate at the phone number listed below. We will be more than happy to take a look at your trees to ensure their health and wellbeing.
Please call the office of All About Trees at (417)863-6214to schedule an estimate. Business hours are Monday-Friday 8:00 am – 4:00 pm. If we miss your call, please leave us a detailed voicemail message with your name, address, phone number, email, and your tree concerns.
“Seasonal Needle Drop.” Seasonal Needle Drop | The Morton Arboretum, www.mortonarb.org/trees-plants/tree-and-plant-advice/horticulture-care/seasonal-needle-drop#:~:text=Every%20year%2C%20evergreens%20experience%20a,part%20of%20the%20plant’s%20cycle.&text=Many%20evergreen%20needles%2C%20as%20they,with%20some%20species%2C%20quite%20rapid.
Mature tree pruning removes dead and dying branches to maintain plant health and safety
All About Trees is a full-service tree care company, and one of our services is the pruning of mature trees. Thinning and raising are two types of tree pruning that should be performed periodically. It works to improve the form and shape of the plant, to eliminate interference with objects and structures, and to compensate for structural weaknesses. Thinning is the removal of live branches to reduce density. Research shows that thinning significantly reduces wind resistance and subsequent storm damage. This leads to healthier trees less prone to breakage, which will lead to a longer-lasting tree.
The pruning of lower branches, known as raising, can be used to increase the amount of light to turfgrass and ground covers beneath the crown of a tree. This will allow homeowners to improve the health of other plants within their yards, and improve tree health. In evergreen trees experiencing fungal issues, a small crown raise can be used to increase the airflow under the tree to reduce fungus. This also allows the tree limbs to be lifted off the ground, making the direct spread of fungus more difficult.
All About Trees arborists are trained to evaluate the condition of your trees and determine the type(s) of pruning required. We aim to balance your goals and those of managing plant health and safety. If you would like an estimate to have your trees pruned, please call the office at 417-863-6214. Our office hours are Monday-Friday, 8:00 am – 4:00 pm. If you miss us, please leave us a detailed voicemail message with your name, address, phone number, email, and tree concerns.
To learn more about the services we offer, please go to our Services page!