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Unhealthy trees pose storm hazards

Summer in
panhandle Florida is primetime for outdoor fun. The heat and sunshine in
Franklin and Gulf counties make water-related activities, either salt or fresh,
first rate in the local paradise within easy driving distance.

there is a serpent in this area-wide Garden of Eden. The calendar indicates the
approach of hurricane season’s peak is four weeks away.

What the
winds of 2021 will blow in is still anyone’s guess, but the official
prognosticators have staked their professional reputations of a
higher-than-average number of storms this year.

The prudent
course of action is to prepare for the worst while hoping for the best. One
area of preparation where residents can have a distinctly positive effect is readying
their trees for the potential assault.

Damage from
falling trees and limbs is a major cause of destruction during tropical storms
and hurricanes. Removing potential problems before the storm does will minimize
harm to structures, and injury to residents.

Trees in
decline are especially hazardous. Their compromised health makes them subject
to uprooting and breakage with far less force than would affect a healthy tree.

There are
several key indicators for tree health. Any single factor or a combination can
mark a tree as unsafe.

growing on or very close to trees is a sign the tree is dying. The fungus is
not the cause of decline, but only an indicator of the eventual fate.

Spores of
the mushrooms are scattered on the wind and by water. Landing randomly, most
never sprout when arriving on a site devoid of necessary resources.

Those lucky
spores which land on decaying wood will likely sprout and take nourishment from
the rotting plant material. Their roots accelerate the decomposition of the wood
by consuming the available material and exposing more of the tree to
colonization by mushrooms.

Sites on
trees and plants with mushrooms typically are break points when pressure or
stress is applied. If the mushrooms are located at the base of the tree, it is
likely to be detached from its roots and topple over in heavy winds.

indicator of tree health is its crown, or the uppermost branches and leaves.
Healthy trees and plants have green and growing crowns.

When the
crown turns brown and the leaves drop off, it is a good indicator that the
tree’s days are numbered. The causes may be disease, lightning, or mechanical
damage to the root system.

bifurcation or trunk forking is a structurally weak tree. This condition may
display itself when the tree emerges from the ground or at a place on the

When the
wind direction stresses the tree with enough force at its angle of
vulnerability, a collapse will result. Unfortunately, there is no simple way to
tell how much wind is required to produce the failure.

Any of the
trees in the landscape with these problems should be evaluated by a certified
arborist, and removed when necessary. It may result is an expense now, but can
save on expenses, inconvenience and aggravation if a storm randomly removes the
tree in the coming weeks.

The question
which homeowners and landscape managers must ask, is really worth the gamble to
wait for storm winds to arrive?

To learn more
about getting the home landscape storm ready in Franklin and Gulf counties,
contact the nearest UF/IFAS County Extension Office or visit
To read more stories by Les Harrison visit Outdoorauthor.com and follow me on

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Meet the Editor

David Adlerstein, The Apalachicola Times’ digital editor, started with the news outlet in January 2002 as a reporter.

Prior to then, David Adlerstein began as a newspaperman with a small Boston weekly, after graduating magna cum laude from Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts. He later edited the weekly Bellville Times, and as business reporter for the daily Marion Star, both not far from his hometown of Columbus, Ohio.

In 1995, he moved to South Florida, and worked as a business reporter and editor of Medical Business newspaper. In Jan. 2002, he began with the Apalachicola Times, first as reporter and later as editor, and in Oct. 2020, also began editing the Port St. Joe Star.

Wendy Weitzel The Star Digital Editor

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