General Conditions: Hanson received 1.40 inches of rain this past week and 8 inches of snow. Soils continue to be very moist. I guess we could say, March went out more “like a lamb” with warm temperatures in the mid 60’s on March 30th and 31st, however, it was very windy with wind gusts up 50 mph. on Friday, March 31. April came in with warm temperatures on April 1 and high winds on April 2, plants were in bloom and peepers were peeping. After that, April 3rd came in “like a lion” with high winds, and 3 inches of snow, followed by 5 inches of snow on April 4th. Temperatures were below freezing overnight on April 3, 4, and 5, ranging from 17-22 degrees. Some areas of Plymouth County lost power due to high winds and falling trees on Sunday, April 3.
Prior to the freezing temperatures ofApril 3 - 4, Magnolia stellata (Star magnolia) and Magnolia ‘Wada’s’ memory were in full bloom and now their flowers are brown. M. x loebneri 'Leonard Messel' is in full bloom and some flowers were damaged by the cold but some look good and the unopened buds appear healthy. Forsythia was just about in full bloom before the cold and now the blossoms that were open look tired and some are brown. However, even before the freezing weather this past week, many of the Forsythia buds above the snow line were dead most likely due to the -4° and -9° degree weather over February 14-15. Other plants displaying various degrees of flower damage caused by the recent below-freezing April weather: Chaenomeles speciosa (Common Flowering Quince), Lonicera fragrantissima, Daphne mezereum (February Daphne), Lonicera fragrantissima (Winter honeysuckle, Omphalodes verna, Sanguinaria canadensis (Blood root) and Corydalis solida. H. foetidus and H. x hybridus (formerly orientalis) appear bedraggled but should recover. Cornus mas, Cornus officinalis, Pieris japonica, Pieris floribunda, Pieris 'Brouwer's Beauty', Salix sp. (pussy willow), Petasites japonicus, Scilla sibirica, hyacinths, Vinca minor, Chionodoxa luciliae are in full bloom. Rhododendron mucronulatum was in bloom the week of March 12th and a few flowers remain.Snow remains covering the ground in shady areas but is melting in sunny areas. Lawns not covered by snow, are green.
Pests/Problems: Winter moth caterpillars began to hatch in Hanson, MA, around April 1stt and 2nd at 47 GDD, base 50, and 217 GDD, base 40. However, on April 3rd, although there was silk (produced by the newly hatched winter moth caterpillars) observed on the oak tree trunk being monitored, there were few to no caterpillars observed during that cold stormy day. Also, on April 3rd, winter moth caterpillars were found in a few apple flower buds that were monitored. Of the 4 caterpillars found, 3 were dead. The newly hatched caterpillars on the tree trunk and in the apple tree buds probably died due to freezing overnight temperatures. (For more information on this, see Tawny Simisky’s Insect Section of the Landscape Message below) However, the winter moth eggs that did hatch are only a small portion of the eggs being monitored. Right now, there are still thousands of winter moth eggs yet to open which have the potential to impact trees. However, it is going to be an interesting and a tough season for predictions as buds have not yet begun to open on some trees, like oaks and Norway maples. And, if the weather warms up soon, and winter moth caterpillars continue to hatch and budburst is delayed, there is the potential that the some caterpillars could starve. Freezing weather, starvation, whatever it takes to possibly reduce the damage potential from this insect! Continue to monitor hemlocks for the white cottony egg masses of hemlock woolly adelgid. And continue to conduct tick checks frequently and use repellants. For tick information go to: http://ag.umass.edu/services/tick-borne-disease-diagnostics.
The high winds, at times this past this winter, and more recently, this past week, have brought down a number of trees and tree limbs, unfortunately and sadly, in some areas, with devastating and fatal results. Now is a good time, whether your clients are residential, municipal, or commercial, to check for dead trees, broken limbs, hazard trees, etc. and remove them, especially if they are in a public area or pose a threat to people, property, etc. Consider recommending, to your clients, a Massachusetts Certified Arborist to remove any large trees that may pose a threat and remember the old adage: Better to be safe than sorry. Bittercress continues to bloom but also continues to set seed.