QUESTION: I have a concern about two hackberry trees in my yard. They are quite old and beautiful, but the leaves are turning yellow and are falling off rapidly. Is this due to the high heat or another problem? I would sincerely hate to see these lovely trees die.
Let’s just say that while the high heat is a major culprit in the early-summer yellowing of a lot of things, it’s not acting alone. “It’s drought primarily,” says Alan Windham, the ornamental and turfgrass pathology expert at U.T. Extension.
“I actually witnessed this, this morning on hackberry behind my home while walking my dogs,” he said when I sent him this question earlier this week. “It was breezy, and yellow leaves were falling from the hackberry like a fall day.”
Most likely, this leaf-fall is not a fatal condition. “Most mature trees have survived many droughts, and should be able to survive this one,”Windham said. “Regardless, I’m hoping for rain this week.”
Young trees that haven’t had a chance to develop an extensive root system are more vulnerable. An email alert from the Nashville Tree Foundation, which plants trees in public places and private yards on its ReLeafing day each November, has sent an alert with watering guidelines and new tips that you can read here to help young trees survive. Most important: water thoroughly, and water slowly to prevent run-off.
The long-range weather forecast may show some relief. Next week, it looks like temperatures will be in the more reasonable mid-to-upper 80s, with a chance of rain.