Was it Mother Nature’s PMS?

by Curt Kovener       

Mother nature has not been at all kind to her woodlands this growing season. The calendar says Fall begins in 10 days and I will welcome the change in seasonal scenery.

The spring started off with adequate rain but then because of a warm winter prior, the yellow poplar scale insect thrived and seriously stressed the Hoosier state trees in the forest.

The scale insect, whose numbers are decreased by cold weather wintered over quite well. They look like small bumps on a twig, pierce the tree’s bark and begin sucking sap. They exude a sweet sticky substance politely called honey dew. That’s a nice way of saying bug poop.

The honey dew left a shiny gloss to all things beneath the poplars but it quickly fermented and molded making everything black.

Fortunately the scale insect is only a short-lived pest, but its damage to yellow poplars will yet to be seen. The stress of losing its life giving sap coupled with the summer drought may result in a longer view demise of the tree.

The Mother Nature failed to turn on the rain spigot all summer leaving the woods dry, parched and wanting for water. There were times when Charley and I would walk the woods the trees seemed to call out for my dog’s mobile watering system. But Charley could only do so much.

Then in late July came some rain…and a lot of wind…which toppled, broke, and de-branched a number of trees.

I hope to have some loggers in the wilderness woods to remove the down and damaged trees. Logging can really temporarily mess up a forest, but not any worse than what Mother Nature has already done.

But there will be plenty of firewood for several seasons to come if I can keep my aging back healthy enough for the task.

Now, almost cruelly too late, we are getting some rain but it frequently comes in buckets rather than a gentle soaking drink. There is a reason those heavy rains are called gulley washers.

Fall is my most favorite season. It is unclear just how colorful it will be owing to some trees prematurely dropping leaves due to drought stress. But this year, it will hopefully be kinder to the woodlands than its two earlier seasonal siblings.