Help me save a 200+ year old specimen beech.

jbrukardt

New Member
Tree in question:

  • American Beech
  • 52 inch dbh
  • 130 foot canopy span
  • 100 foot height

The symptoms:

  • Severe thinning of crown

The damage done:

  • Severe compaction from construction
  • (2011) 20% root zone damage at drip line, north side, from 6 inch deep escavation of gravel pad
  • (2012) 25% root zone damage 6 feet outside drip line, west side, 6 foot wide swath rototilled to 6 inches
  • (2006) #57 gravel, and asphalt millings driving installed 15% into root zone on one side, permeable driveway.

The Environment:

  • Rural neighborhood
  • full sun
  • Sandy soil

The treatment so far:

  • Fall of 2014, a nutrient treatment was applied via hydro injection (report attached)
  • Spring of 2016, additional tests were done to check for two lined chestnut borer, possibly anthracnose leaf disease and possibly root disease. All came back negative
  • 6 inches of wood chip mulch applied inside drip line due to extremely low organic matter in soil

The next steps in treatment:

  • Air spade entire root zone to beyond drip line to alleviate compaction and promote root growth
  • Slow release fertilizer stakes every 3-4 feet at drip line (after dormancy winter 2016)
  • Superthrive auxin treatment at drip line?
  • mycorrhizae treatment at drip line?

Goals:

  • Re-establish rich feeder root network
  • In time, restore crown
  • long term health of tree


Ok... thats a ridiculous amount of details. Long story short, through a fair share of lack of knowledge, and just some bad luck, this tree took a major major hit to its root system with the development of a neighborhood around it. It sits on 2 acres in the middle of a farming area that was turned into a development.

Its absolutely historic, and has some dates carved into the trunk which appear to be in the late 1700s. It needs to live.

Advice on my plan?

Pictures attached of comparison between 2010 (before damage) and after (current) as well as lots of pictures of current.



Current crown: https://imgur.com/2QB1y3o

Crown in 2010: https://imgur.com/lkIA6j9

Other pictures of current state in album form:

http://imgur.com/a/rHsiJ
 

JD3000

Most well-known member
This is definitely Guy's area of experience but Ill make a few points.
I would probably hold off on the fert for now and focus on rejuvenating the root zone. While air spading, how about incorporating some compost to increase soil CEC and biology?
Soil and tissue testing will point you in a better direction as far as selecting organic amendments and POSSIBLY nutrients/ferts. Nutrients should likely be in a very low salt and slow release form if necessary.
Cambistat or a generic may be a better possible option as far as promoting root growth and slowing canopy growth. Dosage is very important with PBZ so erring on the side of caution is advised.
Mycorrhizae are likely present already but you could always look for a native beech stand and see about getting some top soil and OM from it to incorporate while air spading.

Very cool tree, good luck.
 

GregManning

Super Moderator
Staff member
Just FYI
I live in NE Ohio.
You are pretty far away, but Beech Tree Leaf Disease is spreading in all directions from NE Ohio. No Known Cause.
My latest take, is that very young trees die. Older trees seem to be hanging on. [perhaps with help from mother trees]
I just found BLD this spring on my property, and neighborhood.
However, with > 75% of the leaves on mature trees dead, or in very bad condition, how many years can they survive ?
Personally, I expect all of my Beech to die in the next few years.
Please see links:

http://portal.treebuzz.com/beech-tree-leaf-disease-no-known-cause-1036

http://www.treebuzz.com/forum/threads/beech-tree-leaves-dying.33333/page-2#post-490775
(on this thread start at the end & work back)
 

JD3000

Most well-known member
I grew up in NE Ohio...
Any new news on the BLD as far as pin pointing a genus yet? Fungal? Bacterial?
 

GregManning

Super Moderator
Staff member
NONE ! :endesacuerdo:

There is a Map of Propagation in the thread noted above.

I will be at Holden Arboretum in Kirtland, Ohio this weekend for the OH TCC.
I will check for updates.
The last I heard, Holden's entire collection of American, Asian, & European Beech are affected !
 

mrtree

Well-Known Member
If you need help speak to Russ Carlton in Bear Delware or Mike Gavin in Baltimore, both are Registered Consulting Arborists, this is what you need not a tree climber.

I would be checking the compaction and see if that could be remedied first. Air spade is likely first line of attack.

Wood chips great. Make sure they are not so thick they are preventing water and gas flux to the roots.

Mycos are a waste of time and money

Do not fertilize unless you have soil and leaf tissue tests showing you need it. Fish fertilizer if anything.

Auxin, err!!! Do you think this will be more beneficial than working on the soil?
 

DSMc

Well-Known Member
You mention an attached report you had prior to initial nutrient app. Couldn't find it, but would like to see it. Also, you mention the soil is sandy with low organic matter percent. What was the OM content? Sandy soil will not have a large amount.

One of the pictures in the album show a typical ground appearance under a dense canopied tree. Do you know the bulk density? How did you determine extent of compaction there? How heavily is it used by the family?
 

jbrukardt

New Member
You mention an attached report you had prior to initial nutrient app. Couldn't find it, but would like to see it. Also, you mention the soil is sandy with low organic matter percent. What was the OM content? Sandy soil will not have a large amount.

One of the pictures in the album show a typical ground appearance under a dense canopied tree. Do you know the bulk density? How did you determine extent of compaction there? How heavily is it used by the family?
shoot, sorry. The attachment system glitched.

Here it is: https://i.imgur.com/7UGv3c4.png
 

jbrukardt

New Member
You mention an attached report you had prior to initial nutrient app. Couldn't find it, but would like to see it. Also, you mention the soil is sandy with low organic matter percent. What was the OM content? Sandy soil will not have a large amount.

One of the pictures in the album show a typical ground appearance under a dense canopied tree. Do you know the bulk density? How did you determine extent of compaction there? How heavily is it used by the family?
Unfortunately I do not know the bulk density. Compaction was determined by the arborist from the usage scenario (construction equipment traffic) Foot traffic compaction is low.
 

jbrukardt

New Member
Can someone inform me more about cambistat? Limiting growth even more an an already sparse canopy would seem to limit photosynthesis and energy stores worsening the problem. I understand that cambistat causes more chlorophyll per leaf, but growth inhibitors on a stressed tree scare me a bit
 

jbrukardt

New Member
If you need help speak to Russ Carlton in Bear Delware or Mike Gavin in Baltimore, both are Registered Consulting Arborists, this is what you need not a tree climber.

I would be checking the compaction and see if that could be remedied first. Air spade is likely first line of attack.

Wood chips great. Make sure they are not so thick they are preventing water and gas flux to the roots.

Mycos are a waste of time and money

Do not fertilize unless you have soil and leaf tissue tests showing you need it. Fish fertilizer if anything.

Auxin, err!!! Do you think this will be more beneficial than working on the soil?
As for the fert test, see attached two posts up, and the auxins/mycos/any type of supplements would be in addition to airspading.
 

JD3000

Most well-known member
Wow, such low Mn for that low of pH. That high of Fe is probably inhibiting uptake of Mn, nutrient antagonism. Had the tree been fertilized in the past without any soil or tissue testing done? I've gotten quite a few jobs from HOs who had guys fert trees incorrectly because they "have seen this before and I know what's lacking. No need for testing."

Cambistat is a gibberelin (spelling) inhibitor. Reduces twig extension as well as leaf size and usually number. Often leads to a "green up" when micros are limiting or deficient.
 

JD3000

Most well-known member
And Cambistat can be very tricky. Use with caution or not at all! Over regulated trees are not a good thing. On the other hand, a tree with significant root damage would have a difficult time sustaining it's existing canopy, ESPECIALLY if the tree has been pushed with high nitrogen.
 

JD3000

Most well-known member
And does that nitrogen recommendation say 9 lbs per 1000ft? That's WAY too much. I would go way lower and focus on OM and gently try to correct the other nutrients that are lacking.
 

JD3000

Most well-known member
And a Milorganite recommendation is wacky. It has a fair amount of Fe that this tree likely doesnt need.
 

jbrukardt

New Member
Wow, such low Mn for that low of pH. That high of Fe is probably inhibiting uptake of Mn, nutrient antagonism. Had the tree been fertilized in the past without any soil or tissue testing done? I've gotten quite a few jobs from HOs who had guys fert trees incorrectly because they "have seen this before and I know what's lacking. No need for testing."

Cambistat is a gibberelin (spelling) inhibitor. Reduces twig extension as well as leaf size and usually number. Often leads to a "green up" when micros are limiting or deficient.
To the best of my knowledge, no prior fertilization.
 

jbrukardt

New Member
And a Milorganite recommendation is wacky. It has a fair amount of Fe that this tree likely doesnt need.
Yeah, ive since "fired" bartlett, specifically that arborist as he was taking 2-3ish months to respond to inquiries and get back.

I have another local arborist from a place called Ballard looking at it, but unknown as to his level of expertise yet to supplement my own. He suggested nutrient spikes every 3 feet around the drip line of the tree, as in the ones you buy from lowes. That didnt sit quite right with me, as once again, thats going to be very high nitrogen. Provide a quick boost maybe, but not necessarily heal the tree in the long term.
 

JD3000

Most well-known member
I would go to the ISA and ASCA websites and search for BCMAs or RCAs in your area as well as asking around for the best tree care companies in your state. This tree needs some very specific work done to it with proper follow up care.
 
Top