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Schmidt: Ash Trees Dropping Leaves

By Staff | Jun 11, 2015

Submitted Devin Volk shows off a winning project at the 2014 4-H Achievement Days. This year’s achievement days are June 30, July 2 and 3.

Cool, wet weather during bud break has created an outbreak of anthracnose disease on ash trees in some areas of North Dakota again this year. The fungus (Gnomoniella fraxini) first appears as brown spots that develop on young shoots and leaves. Brown blotches develop along the margins of leaves and cause them to curl. Severely damaged leaves will drop to the ground. This fungus will only infect ash.

The leaf drop can seem dramatic but in most cases the homeowner is under more stress than the tree. Usually less than 25% of foliage is shed. Even if every leaf dropped tomorrow, the tree can send out new leaves later this spring.

The fungus thrives in shade and humidity. For that reason, lower branches are more likely to be infected. The top of the tree will be healthiest since it gets good sunlight and air movement.

Anthracnose will spread if wet weather persists. Rake fallen leaves to get the fungus out of the area. The disease survives winter on fallen leaves as well as dead and dying branches. This autumn it will be important to rake the leaves and prune out unhealthy branches.

Established trees can tolerate anthracnose. It would take several consecutive years of infection to seriously weaken the tree. This weakening will make it susceptible to damage from more severe diseases, insect pests, and drought.

NDSU Extension Service Ash leaves showing signs of anthracnose.

Fungicides can be sprayed to protect healthy foliage from becoming infected, but it is difficult to get good coverage of a fungicide on a big tree. Since the disease is not life threatening, NDSU usually does not recommend spraying established trees. The spraying of young trees makes more sense, but there aren’t many young ash trees in landscapes since nurseries stopped selling them due to worries of emerald ash borer.

A fertilization (4 pounds lawn fertilizer per 1000 square feet under the tree’s canopy) can help to promote new growth this spring. While it is OK to give your tree some fertilizer before July 1st, try not to over fertilize them trying to make up for the leaf loss. Over fertilizing can cause trees to grow too much in spring and early summer, which produces too much tender, succulent growth that doesn’t get a chance to properly harden off for winter which can further stress the tree. For more information on properly fertilizing trees stop by the Extension office to pick up a copy of the “Fertilizing Trees” publication.

4-H Achievement Days Schedule of Events

This year our Pierce County 4-H Achievement Days activities kick off on June 30th with the 4-H Horse Show at the DeMontigny farm north of Rugby. This year we have 8 youth competing in the horse show events which include 6 Western events, 4 Timed events, and 4 English classes.

The remaining 4-H Achievement Days events will take place at the Pierce County Fairgrounds July 2nd and 3rd.

July 2nd Static exhibits and pets will be judged. Exhibit check-in will be 8:30-9:30 a.m. with interview judging set to begin at 10 a.m. following announcements and a judges’ briefing. This year we are anticipating several hundred exhibits.

Exhibits are expected to be on display in the fairgrounds community building through Saturday evening during the Pierce County Fair. Spectators are welcome to come view the static exhibits on July 2nd, but are asked to stay clear of the project area until judging is through which is usually around 12 p.m.

July 3rd we will be holding our 4-H Livestock show. Check-in and stalling of the animals will be from 8:30 – 9:30 a.m. with the show set to begin at 10 a.m. following interview judging. This year we are expecting 5 beef, 2 dairy, 5 goat, 5 sheep, and 7 rabbit entries. This year there will be no 4-H poultry show due to avian influenza concerns. New this year is that some 4-H families will be stalling and keeping their livestock in the barn July 2nd and 3rd. This is not a requirement so spectators wishing to see all of the 4-H Livestock exhibits will want to attend the 4-H Livestock show. The 4-H Livestock show is open to the public to attend and the Pierce County 4-Her’s would be thrilled to have you in the audience as they showcase the countless hours they’ve spent preparing their animals for this year’s 4-H Achievement Days!

Register for BBQ Boot Camp

We have been receiving a number of calls at the Pierce County Extension office regarding the upcoming BBQ Boot Camp. We are happy to answer your questions about the event but are unable to register participants through our office as registration is done online. The registration link is: ag.ndsu.edu/ansc. The cost for the boot camp is $35 per person, which includes an information binder, recipes, a meat thermometer, and a full BBQ meal. Rugby was chosen as one of three host sites across North Dakota this summer. Other locations this year include Watford City, July 28th and Fargo, August 12th.

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