INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana’s drought is stressing the state’s trees, leaving some prone to diseases and insect infestations and killing others outright as the hot, dry conditions linger.
Forecasters say Indiana’s worst drought in decades may linger into this fall and the full impact of the drought on trees may not be known for months or longer.
“Sometimes, large trees take several years to show the stress of what they’ve gone through,” said David Forsell, president of Keep Indianapolis Beautiful.
Courtney Stellhorn, a commercial horticulturist with Dammann’s Lawn Garden & Landscaping Centers in Indianapolis, said some trees are so water-starved they’re dying.
“I’ve seen mature trees dying — 40-year-old white pines, spruces, even willows around retention ponds. Anywhere around the city you see this death,” she said.
Some garden and landscape companies are urging people to think twice about buying trees right now because new trees would face enormous struggles just to get established.
Purdue Extension urban forestry specialist Lindsey Purcell said trees across Indiana and the Midwest are struggling in the arid conditions and some could succumb or suffer for years to come.
He said droughts weaken trees’ ability to withstand insects and diseases by leaving them unable to produce the usual levels of carbohydrates, significantly lowering its energy reserves. Those reserves are needed for a tree to produce chemicals that ward off pathogens.
Purcell said watering trees of any size and age can minimize drought damage, especially for newly planted or recently established trees.