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FOLLOWING PUBLICATION OF EACH ISSUE of the Ontario Arborist magazine, we load copies of our most popular columns and features here in our article bank. In addition to being an invaluable source of information, the online versions contain an added benefit not possible in the magazine – live links. So remember, if you read an article in print and want to visit a link but don't want to type in a long address, simply find the article here and click away. One caveat: articles date back almost 10 years so some of the links referenced in earlier publications may no longer be valid. We do our best to keep them current or remove outdated links but the web changes daily!
Social media has grown from being a passing trend in the global marketing industry to being an integral part of any small businesses’ marketing strategy. The question for most small business owners is no longer whether or not they will use social media as a marketing tool, but rather how they will fashion their online presence to create a buzz. The beauty of social media is its accessibility and affordability. Not only is it a marketing tool for big multinational corporations, but also it is an arena in which small businesses can emerge as key players in their respective fields. With the right strategy and a sincere attempt, small businesses can grow and develop their reputations with unparalleled outreach. Arboriculture companies would do well to begin to employ the tactics listed below and capitalize on these newly emerging opportunities.
For a small business owner in the arboricultural industry, creating a company website that remains up-to-date with new product developments and evolving service trends may seem like a gargantuous task – without the added responsibility of having to consider how to market it effectively. Once a strategy has been outlined and the parameters of it set, it is often at the implementation stage that most small businesses fall short. But, much can be achieved by using the organic makeup of the web combined with a strict online marketing campaign. After all, having a website that features the most prolific content and the most revolutionary and/or professional arborist products and services mean very little unless that website is discoverable at the most basic level – by search engines.
English oak (QUERCUS ROBUR), both the regular and pyramidal variety, is affected by an insect called the Oak Leaf Phylloxera (Phylloxera sp., Phyllox-eridae). This problem is often misdiagnosed in the late summer as fungal Anthracnose. The key to recognizing this pest is to follow the progression of symptoms from spring to fall.
All arborists strive to correctly diagnose the problems we see on trees. Correct diagnosis is essential to connect life cycle information, timing for detection and successful and new treatments. With pressure to reduce the use of chemical pesticides, we are turning to the use of biological and bio-rational pesticides, which are low or non-toxic but almost always have a narrower range of pests that they will control.
The temperature is becoming bearable, the days are longer and you can start to visualize new growth on the trees. However, winter has been really tough on white spruce (Picea glauca) and white cedar (Thuja occidentalis), as it is every year. This discussion will examine the symptoms that show up on these trees in early spring so that differences can be highlighted and the correct diagnosis can be made. Correct treatment (if any) can then be explored.
It has always been my hope to discover some new insect or disease affecting trees. However, experience has shown that the tree problems I see are usually simple and common. Let me give you an example of how I learned this fact the hard way...
My pet peeve with arborists is their willingness to diagnosis a tree health problem with insufficient information and knowledge. I hate going onto a property where I am the last of a long line of arborists to look at a problem because I know that I will be giving a different diagnosis than everyone else. There is little worse than an angry client who has a multitude of different diagnoses; she ends up thinking that arborists do not have a clue about trees and their problems...
Last year I had a wonderful opportunity to take maternity leave. I was looking forward to not having to work during the heat of the summer, but as luck had it, 2004 was the year for cool temperatures and rain. Although the weather was a welcome respite to many woody ornamentals and lawns, there were some drawbacks including a lot of complaints regarding nutrient deficiency symptoms on trees (especially Acer, Betula and Quercus)...
Phytophthora Ramorum, the disease that causes Sudden Oak Death (SOD) in coastal areas of the Pacific North-west is still active and spreading. Currently, the disease can be found in the forests of 14 counties in California and 1 county in Oregon. The disease has been associated with the death of several thousand coastal oak species in the 15 regulated counties.
So far this year in Wellington County, we have had nearly 30 days where temperatures reached or exceeded 29.5°C. That’s a lot of heat. Most areas were sitting well below 50% of normal precipitation accumulations until the rains came in late July.
November has arrived. Here we are in the midst of shorter days, lower light intensities and cool conditions. These environmental cues tend to make me want to curl up in my flannel pajamas and take a long nap. Similarly in the plant world, these cues stimulate the preparation for dormancy with leaf senescence – where reserves are shunted into the root system for next spring’s first flush. These withered leaves are dropping (abscising) all around us and their remains will provide organic nutrients for years to come. Senescence and abscission are adaptive processes that are used to help the plant face an environment of dwindling heat and light.
Have you ever wondered if there was something you could do to improve transplant success of your new tree installations each year? There is. Actually, there are lots of ways to help ensure that newly-planted trees have the greatest chance for survival. A better understanding of root and shoot growth patterns, nursery production practices and cultural management techniques can go a long way in reducing the number of failed installations.
I have had quite a few inquiries about spruce trees shedding the individual shoots of last year’s growth. Many homeowners are complaining about the sea of shoots carpeting the ground underneath large, mature specimens (e.g. Norway spruce). A couple of my colleagues have confirmed that this is typical squirrel damage. Last year’s cones can be found at the base of last year’s growth and in the process of “harvesting” the cones this winter, the squirrels have clipped off the shoot as well. They’ve been doing this for months, but we don’t really notice it until the snow melts to uncover all those fallen shoots. This type of squirrel damage has a negligible effect on tree health but will stimulate the production of adventitious buds this year, similar to pruning. It should be noted that this damage is typical of red squirrel behaviour, more so than black squirrels.
Well, spring is officially over and hopefully you’ve had a chance to catch your breath! July is the month where your installations are slowing down and your maintenance clients are getting some much needed attention. Now that woody plants are fully flushed out, leaves are hardened off and conditions are staying consistently hot and dry, we need to start thinking about practices that will keep our landscapes healthy.
The ornamental horticulture sector has had its fair share of impacts from introduced pests in the last decade. We have almost one new pest for each of the last 10 years. Thankfully, not all of these have proved to be as threatening as we had feared. International trade has been the pathway for the introduction of several alien organisms into North America. Once these organisms find themselves out of their native habitat and without their native predators/parasites, some seem to take on a more invasive role in their new environment. Often, they will feed on different host material than they do at home, causing more damage and mortality than they do in their native range – hence the term “invasive alien species” (IAS).
I don't know about you but I’m feeling a little ripped off about the autumn this year. It seems like most weekends came with showers, cloudy skies and cooler temperatures. And as for that gorgeous Thanksgiving weekend, I missed most of it as I was nursing a very bad cold.
Ah yes, winter is here – the time of year we look forward to when we can take a bit of a break and start thinking about how we can improve things for the next growing season. This is a great time for developing your skills: technical, business and inter-personal. There are several trade shows related to landscape, arboriculture and gardening throughout Canada and the US: Landscape Ontario Congress in Toronto, CENTS in Ohio, ISAO’s Annual February Conference and Canada Blooms in Toronto are all perfect opportunities for professional development and networking.
This is a tribute to those readers who took the time to provide feedback to the kinds of articles they would like to read in this publication (please keep your comments coming!). Jim Pook, retired arborist from the City of Hamilton, thought an article on trees that recover quickly from ice storm damage would be quite useful given the crazy weather we sometimes have in Ontario. And I couldn’t agree more. What’s that saying about March? In like a lamb and out like a lion? Well, the first of March 2007 proved to be an oxymoron bringing spectacular wind, rain, sleet and snow to most of southern (and eastern) Ontario where more than 80,000 households were without power and road closures were abundant. But enough about us, let’s just focus on the trees.
This spring, many homeowners and professional arborists are looking for low toxic solutions that might combat the pending hatch of millions of gypsy moth larvae. When larvae begin to emerge, some control can be achieved using Bt (Dipel, Foray) and spinosad (Success) insecticides in the first few weeks after egg hatch.
In the past few years, there have been an increasing number of calls coming in regarding Gymnosporangium rust-like symptoms on the leaves of ornamental pears. Gymnosporangium is the genus of fungus that is responsible for rust diseases like cedar-apple, cedar-hawthorn and cedar-quince rust. This year, there have been an overwhelming number of reports of rust symptoms on ornamental pears across much of southern Ontario. Samples in early summer were confirmed as Gymnosporangium sp. but the actual species identification required a specific DNA test or aeciospore morphology (aeciospores don’t appear until late summer). Recently, DNA tests have revealed the identification of the fungus to be Gymnosporangium sabinae (a.k.a. G. fuscum, pear trellis rust). The pathogen is pathogenic to species of Pyrus (pear), Juniperus (juniper) and one species of Cupressus (cypress)...