At Fox Tree we are seeing a serious and disturbing problem at properties that had salt water incursion from Super Storm Sandy. Trees that appeared healthy in early spring, with well-formed buds and no apparent storm damage, have opened their buds and pushed out new foliage. Within days, the leaves are drying up and falling off the trees, using up their stored carbohydrate reserve. The trees are then unable to produce new leaves, and are in the process of failing completely. The problem has likely been caused by salt water flooding the property due to storm surge, which has left behind goodly amounts of salt and sodium and prevented the roots from being able to supply the new leaves with enough water to survive and grow. They then curl up and are dropped by the tree in a desperate attempt to hold onto water reserves. Since salt in the soil is keeping the roots from being able to take up water, and there are no leaves to photosynthesize and help the tree regain energy, the tree fails completely and becomes standing firewood.
At properties that had no salt water brought in by storm surge, we still see damaged foliage in white pines, spruces and fir trees caused by wind-borne salt, but these trees are able to push out and sustain new foliage because their roots are taking up water. At salt water flooded properties, the prognosis is not as good. Rainfall and deep watering are crucial to help drive the salt and sodium out of the root zones. Treatments with soluble gypsum and calcium will also make the salt more soluble, but as with all soil treatments, this takes a fair amount of time to have any effect. Unfortunately, the effect of salt on the roots is immediate and significant. One season without foliage is more than enough to finish off these stressed trees.
In some cases, it may be possible to reduce this problem and help the roots by using bio-stimulants and mycorhizzal injections. Call us to evaluate the trees at your property and we will do everything in our power to help you!