The ground was littered with tree leaves and blossoms following a hailstorm Monday night. Pea sized hail, up to two inches deep in some places, pelted the trees and caused substantial damage to the trees.
However, most of the trees were still in the early stages of coming out of dormancy and should be able to bounce back.
"I think we're still all right," said Mark Ploger, Pratt County Extension agent. "Most of the trees will come back and produce buds."
Depending on the type of tree, if it had already leafed out and the sap was up in the tree, the hail and freeze could cause some serious damage.
Right now the trees that had some leaves and blossoms look like they are in bad shape but property owners need to wait a couple of days for the weather to warm up to determine how badly the trees were damaged.
"If a tree is in good health, it can usually work itself out of a minor setback like this," Ploger said.
It takes time for trees to acclimate to weather conditions. Because of the unusually cold spring, trees are just now coming out of dormancy and they haven't had time to adjust to the temperatures.
Part of the recovery will depend on how the property owner took care of the tree during the last two years of drought.
"If the tree was watered last fall when it got so dry they should come out of it all right. You will be able to tell the trees that didn't get adequate water last summer," Ploger said.
Trees need 10 gallons of water every day for every inch of diameter under normal conditions. But the last two years have not been normal conditions and property owners that did not take care of their trees could see their trees die.
Trees cannot take sunscald, long periods of exposure to high temperatures. High temperatures started early in 2012. The high temperature in Pratt on April 23 this year was 30 degrees. In 2012, the high temperature in Pratt was 93 degrees. Sustained high temperatures mixed with extremely low moisture amounts put the trees under a lot of stress.
Without proper watering, the combination of cold and hail plus two years of drought could spell the end for trees.
It's not only trees in the city that suffered from the drought. Cedar trees in shelterbelts are dying from the lack of water. Cedars were originally planted too close together in shelterbelts and the stronger trees with better root systems will take the water and survive.
Dying trees are visible in shelterbelts in the county and in town. Although property owners were warned that trees needed to be watered, some didn't heed the warnings and are now paying the price.
Page 2 of 2 - "Our specialist told us to expect this and it's come to pass," Ploger said.
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