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Cumulative drought stress shows in Arkansas trees

“A week does not go by that I don’t get calls of trees dying.” -- Berni Kurz. Drought has cumulative effect on trees. Wildfire risk high in six Arkansas counties, moderate for rest of the state.

Arkansas’ trees are showing the effects of two very dry years.

In many parts of the state, leaves are curling and starting to drop in places.

“A week does not go by that I don’t get calls of trees dying or callers asking ‘why did my trees not green up this spring?’ said Berni Kurz, Washington County Extension staff chair.

Tamara Walkingstick, associate director of the Arkansas Forest Resources Center, said “hickory trees on my place are losing their nuts and I've seen some leaves yellowing on already stressed trees.

“The key is that drought effects are cumulative in trees. Impacts from the past two years are still affecting trees and additional stress can lead to more disease problems and simply death.”

With trees, “you can't fix last year's damage with adequate rainfall this year,” Walkingstick said. “The damage is done.”

Drought also opens the door to another enemy of trees: fire.

“The dryness, the wind, and the heat are potentially setting up a perfect storm,” she said.

According to the Arkansas Forestry Commission the wildfire danger is high in Conway, Faulkner, Cleburne, Conway, Perry, Pulaski, Van Buren and White counties. All other counties were listed as having a moderate danger. As of May 30, county judges had imposed burn bans in Boone, Carroll, Clay, Faulkner, Fulton, Garland, Independence, Lincoln, Marion, Newton, Ouachita, Perry, Pope, Sharp, Searcy, Stone and Van Buren counties.

For more information about forestry, contact your county Extension office or visit the Arkansas Forest Resources Center at or

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