Wet spring, dry summer cause leaves to come down early


You may have noticed more leaves than usual coming down ahead of schedule.

Maybe you have had to rake them from your lawn already, but there’s no reason to worry about your favorite tree.

“A lot of people then begin to panic because they think their tree is dying, but it’s not, and it’s a natural process,” said Richard Beckort, extension educator for agriculture and natural resources with Purdue Extension Jackson County.

Beckort said it’s pretty normal to see leaves falling this time of year, but the quantity may be different this year.

“The trees may have had more leaves on them this year than they would have on an average year,” he said. “It’s not terribly unusual because August is typically a dry period.”

Trees likely produced more leaves this spring when there was an above average amount of precipitation, Beckort said.

Now that the area has had a dry July and start to August, the trees are shedding their leaves.

So the trees aren’t losing more leaves this year. They simply have more to shed.

Beckort said trees lose moisture each day through leaves. If that moisture is not replenished, then the leaves dry and fall in an effort to conserve it.

“Trees have about twice as many leaves as they need to make food and support the tree,” he said, adding that by this time of year, trees have enough carbohydrates and starches for the year.

Trees would only be affected if there were multiple months and seasons in drought.

“Typically, they can withstand a lot of dry weather and not be hurt in the long run,” Beckort said. “They might look bare, they might not be as beautiful in our landscape, but overall, it’s not doing any damage to that tree.”

Beckort said many may question whether they should water their trees to help give them more moisture. He said that is not a great idea because of how much would have to go into providing the tree with enough water.

“It would take a lot of water and a lot of time,” he said.

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