Bark Splitting and Other Cold Hardiness Effects of Ornamental Herbicides

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  • 1 The Ohio State University, Horticulture and Crop Science, Columbus, OH, 43210

Many nurseries within Ohio and northeastern, southeastern, and western United States, and Canada have reported severe bark splitting and scald-type problems in 2005. The amount and severity of damage seen in 2005 has been unlike anything seen before. At Ohio State University, samples from across the state started appearing in 2003–04 and increased in incidence in 2005. Growers' reports of exceeding losses of 5% of their inventory or 3000 to 4000 trees per nursery are not uncommon. At an average cost of $125 per tree and with the number of nurseries reporting problems, the stock losses in Ohio have been staggering, in excess of several million dollars. The trees that we have seen problems on in 2005 have been callery pears, yoshino cherry, kwanzan cherry, crab apples, sycamore, serviceberry, hawthorn, mountain ash, black gum, paper bark maple, japanese maples, norway maple `Emerald Queen', red maples, kousa dogwood, magnolia `Elizabeth' and the yellow magnolias such as `Butterflies', `Sawada's Cream', `Yellow Bird', and `Yellow Lantern'. It has long been observed that the actual cause of a bark crack was “preset” by a wound such as the improper removal of a basal sprout, herbicide, leaving of a branch stub, or lack of cold hardiness. Cold and frost may be contributing to the increase in bark splitting across the United States; however, new research results at Ohio State University regarding the effects of DNA preemergent herbicides in the reduction of root hardiness and regrowth potential, sprout removal and other mechanical injuries, and postemergent herbicide application will reveal these are more the causal agents.

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