We have a 20 year old black walnut tree in our yard that may be showing
signs of distress.
Each year it leafs out fairly late by comparison to other trees. This is
consistent however -- it leafs out roughly the same time every year. What
has me concerned is that this particular year has the added curiosity of
LOSING its leaves early. The tree has already fruited, the squirrels are
hitting it hard of course, but it's lost a solid half of its leaves.
All of the trees seem to be having a bit of a problem this year, likely due
to hot weather and a lack of rain I'm thinking. I was just curious if
anyone else has experienced any similar issues, especially with their black
Zone 6, SW Ohio
Walnuts do leaf out late. But they don't particularly lose their
Walnuts are highland trees, and fairly drought resistant. I find it
hard to believe that you have a drought, here in SE MI (perhaps 400
miles N of you) I have had to water seedlings a couple of times, but I
have yet to water the tomatoes, potatoes, chard, zucchini, garlic or
onions. Lots of mowing, though.
How is your soil? Does the walnut have to fight with grass? Perhaps
you should consider some manure, and 6 inches of wood chips all the
way to the dripline.
We have two items conspiring against us here -- first and foremost, we've
been a bit below our average rainfall totals. Second and most important has
been the type of rain -- rather than getting a series of regular rains we've
been getting occasional drenching followed by lots of dryness. In mid-June
we were 6 inches below average and the only reason we were that close was
the deluges we had received. We're finally starting to see more regularly
rains but I think it's come a little too late.
The soil's fair-to-middlin' -- it's mostly clay. Yes, there is some grass
around the tree but the tree is a happy 50 feet tall now -- I find it hard
to believe that after 20 years it's now having problems with grass. If I
put wood chips all the way to the drip line it'd be pretty big. :)
That is the way with trees. They look fine for 20 years running and
then suddenly they start to keel over. If it looks stressed you should
react. And it is a one ton tree, so it will want tons of organic
For the time being I've been taking leaves and such and piling them in the
area directly around the trunk. Before winter hits, I'll be doing a lot of
work re-landscaping the yard including mulching the whole front yard over.
We're also planning on catching rainwater from the downspouts and funnelling
them out to the yard over time.
I don't object to it -- in fact, it's a part of my general landscaping plan.
Unfortunately it's a tad more pricey than I can afford at this time -- we're
talking around a thousand square feet here so.... :)
We live in Northern Kentucky on a farm. We have hundreds of black walnut,
oak (at least 8 different oaks), maple, sycamore, locust, cottonwood, etc.,
etc. to make comparisons.
The black walnut are always the last to get their leaves in the spring. And
they are always the first to lose their leaves in the fall. No ifs, ands or
During the drought last year the garden centers and extension offices and
agriculture departments were all predicting a hard summer for hardwoods this
year because of that drought. Apparently the drought's effects are seen
mostly in the following leaf season. With some residual effects for up to
10 years. I was just noticing a few weeks ago that quite a few trees have
fewer leaves to start and are losing quite a few already. But they all seem
to have brown spots on their leaves. Not just one species, or age group, or
site, but all of the hardwoods.
We have these 2 elm trees at the top of the driveway. They are magnificent.
One on each side of the gravel drive which is only about 10 feet wide, if
that. If you stand under them and look up it appears that there is a
natural ceiling of leaves. Just a really great shape, like this huge
umbrella. Reminds me why I love nature so much. Anyway, these trees have
less leaves and quite a few branches that aren't looking too healthy.
Hoping all of this is what the 'experts' were predicting and not a really
nasty something starting to develop.
Judy -- You guys are just the other side of the drink; I'm over in Cincy.
It's good to know I'm not alone.
Like you, I've noticed a number of my trees are not doing as well as I would
expect. My crab apple has dark spots on the leaves as do the maples. My
redbuds have certainly seen better days -- they didn't really leaf out as
well as I'd hoped and the leaves have been droopy all season long. Even the
lilacs are droopy.
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