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Grow with KARE: Trees changing color early

Trees that are changing color already are telling you they're under some sort of stress.

MINNEAPOLIS — We love fall color season, but when it comes a little too early, it can be a cry for help from your tree.

Trees that are changing color already are telling you they're under some sort of stress.

That stress may be from moisture, both too much or too little. If you’re in an area of drought, your tree is likely telling you it needs to be watered — at least 1 inch of water per week. If it’s not getting that from mother nature, put your hose on a slow trickle to make sure that water soaks into the ground.

If you’re in an area where flooding or heavy rainfall has been a problem, there’s not much to do other than wait it out.

But water might not be the problem; you should also look to see how the tree is planted. The trunk should flare out above ground level. If it goes straight into the ground like a telephone pole, it’s planted too deep and this can cause the roots to girdle (i.e., grow in a circular pattern), which eventually strangles the tree. You’ll need an arborist to fix girdled roots, but if they can't, the tree will eventually die.

Along these same lines, make sure you don’t have mulch piled up against the trunk. The flare should be clearly visible.

Also check for structural and insect damage. Are there cracks in the tree? Can you see any signs of a bug infestation?

The tree’s leaves are changing color as a defense mechanism. Finding the answer to why is key for many years of beautiful fall color ahead.

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