East Texans should watch out for toppling trees

EAST TEXAS (KTRE) - The rainfall has been fairly consistent during the first quarter of 2012, however, the drought has left its mark and is still having a major impact on the welfare of our trees.

With tornado season right around the corner, the damage of drought has made dying trees dangerous.

Do not find false hope in the rain say agriculture experts who predict the worst drought in Texas since 1895 is expected to last a few years.  Environmentalists warn East Texans should be cautious of the danger of five million dead or dying trees.  "Trees that have been weakened with the drought could be problems especially near homes," said Jamie Sugg, County Extension Agent for Ag and Natural Resources, Nacogdoches County.

Recent downpours are having a positive effect on moisture-parched soil, but it only takes an hour of sunshine to dry out plant life. "If you still go ahead and dig deep, you will still be discovering pretty dry soil," said John Makow, Master Gardeners of Nacogdoches County.

Dry soil increases the vulnerability of roots which makes it easier for them to become displaced.  "Trees that have been uprooted were probably stressed during the drought," said Sugg.

Makow manages 18 acres of land and suggests cutting your losses sooner rather than later. "By thinning out you do a lot of favors by allowing the strong ones to survive."

The threat of winds and tornados picks up in early Spring and that increases the danger of uprooting a tree. "Eventually they are going to fall down and break, breakdown," said Makow.

"Big trees are a lot more susceptible to being pulled out should we get some high winds, or a hurricane in June," said Sugg.

During severe weather, even the strongest trees are at-risk.  "Get rid of it. Whether it is drying out, or still alive, chances are, it's going to come down," said Makow.

If you are thinking of re-planting soon, experts say now is the best time.  They stress that there is only a small window and for that reason you might consider drought-tolerant plants and shrubs for now.

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