Tips for Winter
15 , 2005
the winter of 1998, the Santa Ynez Valley as well as other
parts of our county experienced weather unfamiliar to our
climate. Extreme rains fell in a short period of time followed
by catastrophic winds which caused quite a lot of damage and
change to the growth pattern of all the foliage for several
The event brings me to a similar event of last winter. Which
brought us almost 3 times over the normal rainfall. Fortunately,
we were spared the devastating winds. This kept the damage
at a minimum. The rains of 1998 fell in a short period of
time saturating the soil very deep, but short lived as it
evaporated away from the feeder roots of most trees, or soaked
in beyond them. Last winters rainfall was on the gauge, more
in some places than the winter of 1998.
The difference between these two events, were the quick rains
of 1998. A majority of water ran off not allowing as much
absorption as the long sustained rainfall we experienced last
winter of 2004-2005. According to my sources in the heart
of the valley, we experienced approximately 35" of rainfall,
which is far beyond normal for this climate. The problem with
this is that it was lengthy, spread out over several months,
which kept the top 4' of soil wet the entire winter. This
area is where most of the feeder roots are for the majority
of trees. This long term rain fall has made water more available
to the trees in the spring when their normal growth pattern
begins, allowing them to absorb and retain more moisture than
normal. In some cases 3 to 4 times the average amounts, this
will increase the tip growth of most trees by the same proportions.
Smaller trees will not create safer concerns in the area of
breakage due to tip weight. It will be the larger trees such
as oaks, peppers and eucalyptus. These issues have already
begun. As we have seen in the paper last month with the large
Valley Oak collapsing in someoneís yard in Fredensborg Canyon.
This is not an isolated care. We have been called out on several
cases involving excessive growth problems. Dealing specifically
with rapid growth on limb tips only. Rain captured on limbs
and leaves coupled with constant swaying in high winds in
the common culprit that causes structural failure.
The solution to this problem is to thin the ends only. The
common striping of the limb to the heavy end will only compound
the problem by spring if the tree remains standing that long.
The removal of inside growth will only force more sap to the
tips and cause an even more rapid growth problem.
Deciduous trees if not thinned this year will become an even
greater problem in the spring of 2006. Canyon Sycamore, Valley
Oaks and Blue Oaks are just a few of the larger trees, which
loose their leaves and become much lighter in the winter.
As they put on weight in the spring adding to the previous
years excessive growth, they become prone to structural failure.
These trees should be pruned in the same manner. Ignoring
inside growth, dealing mainly with the outer 1/3 of the trees
leaf cover. Heading in or topping is always the last solution
for any tree. Any company that suggests topping, as a common
solution for this issue should be left off your list of people
For more information please contact your local tree care specialist.
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