Shade trees give us so much in addition to a wonderful, shady spot to relax. So, when we see that they are struggling and their leaves are looking a bit different, we take notice. Reddish or brown scorched-like leaves may not seem to look too serious – especially when they start appearing as fall gets ready to set in, but they could be.
Let’s talk about Bacterial Leaf Scorch – and how you can avoid it.
What is Bacterial Leaf Scorch?
Bacterial leaf scorch is a disease that impacts the look and health of shade trees. It comes on rather faintly – a leaf here, a leaf there. But it doesn’t take long for the signs of this disease to take over an entire tree.
Caused by the bacterium Xylella fastidiosa, the first signs are necrotic leaves. They start to turn brown around the edges and look scorched, and will finally leaf drop. The center part of the leaf remains green and looks otherwise healthy. The exact coloring and impact varies based on the tree it is infecting.
So, who is at risk? Bacterial Leaf Scorch generally affects these trees locally:
- Red Oaks
- Pin Oaks
- Black Oaks
However other parts of the country has reported infection in the following:
- Red Oak
- Red Maple
- Pin Oak
- American Elm
Bacterial Leaf Scorch, if left untreated, doesn’t just go away. It will reappear year after year, spreading as time passes.
How Bacterial Leaf Scorch is Diagnosed
This common disease usually begins to appear mid-late summer/early fall depending on your region. Visually inspecting the tree is one way to diagnose bacterial leaf scorch. You are looking for necrosis along the margin of the leaf in uniquely-shaped patterns. It is separated from the green center with a yellow halo.
It takes a laboratory test to truly rule out every other disease or potential cause for the scorched-like appearance. However, a high-skilled arborist is able to examine the tree and determine whether or not it seems to have bacterial leaf scorch.
Treatment can then be planned accordingly.
Treating Bacterial Leaf Scorch
Many people try to prune their trees to remove the affected leaves. However, while it may temporarily improve their appearance, it does not heal the disease.
To keep your trees healthy, you always want to make sure they have enriched soil and have healthy consumption of water. Although there is not a cure for bacterial leaf scorch, treatments can keep your tree healthy and strong as well as deter the leafhoppers that are known to spread the disease. This is often done with trunk injections of antibiotics combined with soil injections. The treatment suppresses symptoms and prolongs the life of the tree – and it should be re-treated annually.
You should never try injecting anything into the trunk of your tree without the direction of a qualified arborist.
Call in the Professionals
Keeping your trees alive and well sometimes takes more than occasional watering. If you are dealing with Bacterial Leaf Scorch or some other type of tree disease, don’t attempt to heal it on your own. Call in the professionals at Rick’s Plant Health Care.
Contact our office today at (610) 840-2655 or request a quote online.
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