AUSTIN (KXAN) — Following one of the driest year’s on record, many trees in Central Texas had a rough year. This week’s significant ice event, while only lasting a couple of days, could dump freezing rain on Central Texas. Ice can put a lot of stress on trees.
We wanted to know if this additional stress, plus the stress from the 2022 drought would equal a “tree-pocalypse.”
Short answer: no. Experts with ABC Home & Commercial Services said that while a tree can be stressed in a drought, it is an internal stress. A freeze is external and more about the weight the ice puts on it.
You can learn more in the transcript below:
Eric Henrikson, KXAN News: What sort of impact could that freezing weather have on our trees? Now that we had such a dry year last year?
Scott Martin, ABC Home & Commercial Services Lawn and Tree division manager: “It is possible that during an extreme drought, trees will get stressed out to the point that they start to suffer some structural cracks that you can’t see with the visible eye and it doesn’t have really any immediate impact on their health unless a limb were to break. And that those things could show up.
When you have a freeze event like this, if we were to have an accumulation of ice and weight on branches, you can have some failure that could be associated with sudden structural cracks.
This freeze event we have coming is not going to be as severe as the one we experienced a year and a half ago. Really, the greatest damaging effect of ice and freezing temperatures to trees [is] structural damage. It requires enough falling ice and rain to accumulate on branches and leaves.”
Trees similar to live oaks that have leaves on them that haven’t gone dormant. That would actually give some surface area for ice to build up on. You know, drought stress does affect the immune system of a tree, causing stress.”
Henrikson: What can you do with just the few hours we have here to take care of your trees and make sure they’re ready for the next couple of days?
Martin: “If we weren’t getting rain, you know, watering your lawn, your landscape plants and even your trees. You know, filling the soil pore spaces with water is kind of a protective measure you can do.
At this point, you know, to reduce the risk of structural damage, you would have needed to do some pruning, especially again in trees like live oaks that still have their leaves on them through the winter. With just a few hours before these events hit, truly nothing much to do other than to watch and wait and hope that we don’t get that kind of ice accumulation on the tree branches.”