by Tina Graver
When the leaves fall from the trees, and lawn mowing is a distant memory, most homeowners put their yards on the back burner until spring. However, there is a lot that can be done to assure that spring doesn’t bring some unpleasant surprises when it comes to your favorite plants due to over-wintering insects, harsh weather conditions and deer.
Dormant Oil Sprays
control overwintering pests
protect from winter-burn
protect from chewing and rubbing
Dormant oil sprays
Horticultural oil is a material approved by the Organic Material Research Institute (OMRI) and poses few risks to people or most desirable species, including beneficial insects such as lady bugs. Horticultural oil works by coating the air holes through which insects breathe, causing them to die from asphyxiation and is excellent at safely controlling certain types of over-wintering pests. Armored and soft scale insects are target pests, as well as mite and aphid eggs that overwinter in cracks and crevices of woody plants. The ideal time to apply is in late fall or early spring when day-time temperature hover around 55 degrees.
Anti-desiccant sprays protect plants from excessive water loss through the leaves and soft buds. The combination of cold drying wind, fluctuating temperature from very cold to warm and sunny causes what is known as ‘winter burn.’ Plants suffering from winter burn will have brown needles or leaves. An important point is that anti-desiccants do not protect the plants from freezing. Vulnerable plants include most broadleaf evergreens and shrubs such as hollies, boxwood and nandina. The spray coats the foliage, preventing moisture loss. The coating should be applied when temperatures are above freezing for at least 24 hours. The coating wears off at temperatures above 50 degrees and may need to be re-applied throughout the winter.
While deer can be an issue all year round, they can cause significant damage in the winter months when food sources become scarce. There are many methods for protecting plants from hungry deer. One option is to install temporary deer fencing or trunk wraps to act as a physical barrier. This kind of barrier may be used alone or in conjunction with deer repellant sprays and bittering agents. Deer repellant sprays are often derived from predator urine such as coyote. These sprays tend to be offensive to many customers and we will often recommend a bittering agent instead. A bittering agent is sprayed on the foliar of the deer’s favorite plants. The deer may sample one of these plants but will leave it alone once they taste the product.
Each year, thousands of workers are injured or killed because of accidents resulting from electrical hazards. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA ) mandates that tree care workers receive electrical hazard training, but does not police companies to ensure that training is provided. However, an accident investigation that reveals untrained workers will lead to severe fines. TCIA has developed an Electrical Hazard Awareness Program (EHAP) for the tree care industry and offers materials and teacher training for qualified arborists. Mead Tree & Turf Care arborists Bob Mead and Steve Castrogiovanni have received EHAP instructor training. As ISA Certified Arborists and Certified Tree Safety Professionals (CTSP), they qualified to receive EHAP teacher training and currently conduct EHAP training for all tree workers at Mead Tree & Turf Care, as well as for other groups in the industry. Once training has been performed and documented, a yearly review is required for employees to maintain EHAP certification.
EHAP is designed to familiarize arborists and tree workers with the equipment utility companies use to provide electricity, and the hazards associated with tree care and utility lines. All utility lines above ground and below ground are considered energized with potential fatal voltages; this includes telephone and cable lines. The EHAP program consists of an orientation video as well as 6 instructional units and tests. Participants are also required to perform practice aerial rescue and to hold current CPR and first aid certification. Once all requirements have been met an enrollee will receive a certificate of completion that is valid for one year. Annual refresher training is required to maintain certification. The certification for EHAP is to train non-line clearance arborists and tree workers how to recognize utility hardware and understand the current that flows through a given system. It does not allow workers to operate within the minimum approach distance of 10 feet for utility lines, or more for higher voltage lines. All companies that perform tree care should meet safety compliance requirements that pertain to EHAP training.
Although safety training is primarily focused on the well-being of employees, customers can benefit from peace of mind knowing their tree care company considers safety on the job a first priority.