PLANT NUTRITION & APHID CONTROL
September 10, 2019
Recently we noticed a crop of year old Burr Oak trees struggling to take off. Leaves were chlorotic yellow, aphids were high in severity. Both Tell-Tale signs of a group of struggling trees. In the past, we would have done a quick once-over before spraying it with a pesticide to rid the tree of pests. Perhaps we would have guessed at the nutrient deficiency, confused about the plant response. This time, we took a different approach.
Instead of treating the outside symptoms we did a “Plant Sap Analysis” on the crop – a process that determines nutritional imbalances within the plant allowing us a window in on the root cause. In early June 2019, the results came back. Our Burr Oak crop was nutrient deficient in so many areas!!
Keep in mind, it is not uncommon for trees to be deficient in a few nutrients – however if left untreated, these small deficiencies turn in to larger issues like plant pest and disease. We’ve recently started a process when receiving our liners in the spring to detect these deficiencies as soon as we have leaves on the tree to set the tree on a positive growth and health path.
Clearly there was work to be done. For a month we provided the crop with the nutrients it needed and when we felt we’d done all we could, we did a follow-up analysis. And guess what? The nutrients were balanced (mostly)! You won’t believe what happened next. Already during the spraying process, the leaves began to look healthier and growth occurred.
Look at the difference between Photo #1 taken before any of the nutrient spraying (pale leaves, aphids) and Photo #2 taken a month afterward (deep green foliage, new growth). Already this was a huge success since one of our initial goals was GROWTH! But unfortunately, despite the growth, the trees still had aphids. At this point, we wondered if the aphids would actually leave…
We could have left it at healthy growth and called it a job well done but we really wanted to see if balanced nutrition would also result in a pest-free tree. So we pushed on. This past week we applied another solution, topping up any nutrients that weren’t quite balanced (Mn, Mg, Cu, Co, N, Fe) and three days later… THE APHIDS WERE GONE!
So what does this all mean? Well for us it’s a big affirmation of our current goal to use fewer chemicals. This procedure used NO CHEMICALS and still solved a major crop-wide problem. That’s big.
We want to share stories like these because chemicals are NOT the only solution. If trees are healthy (nutritionally and chemically balanced) they will naturally protect themselves. Science shows that nutritionally balanced plants are actually pest resistant! Why? Because pests eat garbage. If a pest sees a plant in poor health it is attracted to it because all it sees is food. But when a plant is healthy it doesn’t have anything that a pest wants (most pests can’t stomach the fully formed proteins of a healthy plant, they need the unformed proteins of a sick plant)!
Healthy Burr Oak Leaf
For those of you interested in being apart of this chemical-free goal on a more personal level there are tons of natural fertilizers out there that provide nutrients for your plants and keep them nice and healthy.
A few products/resources for you to check out:
Go and see what works for you!
And the next time you have aphids on your trees think twice before spraying chemicals! The solution is more than likely an internal problem, treatable with proper nutrition.
Having trouble getting rid of a persistent pest or disease on your tree? Email our Plant Health Department and we’ll do our best to help.