Todd Lanigan, forest health specialist, Eau Claire, Todd.Lanigan@wisconsin.gov, 715-839-1632
You may have noticed some of the elms and maples had a lot of brown in them at the end of May and early June. Some elms and maples produced a lot of seed this spring, which reduced the amount of energy available for producing leaves. With fewer leaves and more of the brown, papery seeds, the trees can take on a thin, brown appearance.
Heavy seed years can occur for many reasons. It happens naturally from time to time and it can also be stimulated by environmental stressors. A couple of examples of environmental stressors are: excessive moisture, winter injury and frost damage to roots.
The cause of this year’s heavy seed production is anyone’s guess. There does not appear to be a common pattern between the affected trees to indicate whether it was simply a normal heavy seed year or related to an environmental factor.