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Deformed Foliage on Your Pecan Trees?
We are seeing a lot of galls on pecan foliage this year…Pecan Phylloxera. During our regular inspections, we are always on the lookout for pests and diseases that can affect the health of your trees. One of the things we sometimes find on the native and introduced pecan cultivars, both prevalent in this area, are called galls. Also known scientifically as pecan phylloxera, these soft shapes look like little greenish brown footballs among the leaves. If you come across them yourself, you might feel worried. Is this some sort of horrible disease? Will it kill my tree?
In early spring, tiny, soft-bodied orange insects appear when new leaf buds are unfolding. These little orange critters pierce and suck the juices out of the baby leaves, injecting a toxin into the new growth which forms a gall around them. At this time of year, the galls split open, releasing loads of the aphid-like insects. After that they dry out and cause sometimes noticeable leaf drop as well as die-back on the smaller twigs.
What to do about it?
The best time for chemical control is just when the leaves are emerging and the insects are not yet protected by the gall that forms around them. If you have had this problem in the past, it’s a good idea to treat the tree in the winter dormant season with a horticultural oil, which physically smothers the pests. This organic method vastly reduces their populations before they cause havoc in spring. When choosing new plants, select newer varieties, which are bred to be more resistant to diseases.
By the time the problem is visible in May and June, the insects have done their damage to the young foliage and have completed their life cycle for the time being. Since control is largely ineffective at this point, we focus on the long-term care of the tree, making it less susceptible to future damage and better able to recover from the current malady.
It’s important to remember that a tree that is healthy will sustain this kind of damage and recover on its own with time and proper care.
Healthy Trees Resist Problems
If you are having persistent problems with certain pests or diseases, it’s always a good idea to evaluate your overall tree care management. Tasks such as watering your tree properly with at least an inch of water per week will make a big difference in the vigor of your trees. In our hot, dry summer giving them an inch and a half is even better. Proper watering is crucial to the long term health of your trees. Remember that they are a beautiful and irreplaceable asset to your home and your neighborhood. They deserve the kindness and attention you would give to any other important part of your life.