The limb is falling! The limb is falling!

Everyone’s familiar with the story of “Chicken Little”, the pint-sized poultry who proclaimed “the sky is falling.” Well, he needs to get to work prognosticating about tree-limb failure. Most summers are complete with sporadic limb failure, but an added effect of this historically hot and dry summer has been an increase in what is often termed “sudden limb drop”. The cause of this dramatic event is complicated and contested among arborists, however, two general factors are at play: preexisting structural defects in the broken limb and excessive evapotranspiration as a result of high temperatures.

These two factors account for an apparent spike in “sudden limb drop” this summer. The extreme cold and heavy snow and ice we experienced during February provided the structural defect by causing micro fractures in the limbs. This summer’s record-breaking string of 100-degree-plus days in the Southern Plains provided the extreme transpiration. While predicting these events is virtually impossible, reducing the amount of damage could be possible by thinning the weight of the branches, especially on nut-bearing trees whose limbs get heavier as the nuts mature late in the summer.


Arborist Representative - Dallas, TX
ISA Board-Certified Master Arborist
Texas Oak Wilt Certification #0124
Masters Degree - Arboriculture and Urban Forestry – Texas A&M University
Wiesbaden University of Applied Sciences

Has worked for Bartlett Tree Experts as an Arborist Representative since 2005. He regularly speaks at various schools and for community groups teaching pruning and tree preservation to candidates in Ft. Worth’s Citizen Forester program. He’s a member of the tree advisory board for the City of Irving, helps with Arbor Day events in various cities, and is president of the Cross Timbers Urban Forestry Council. Gareth is a native of Fort Worth, but is passionate about travel, experiencing other cultures, and learning foreign languages. Currently he is learning “proper” Spanish and is already fluent in German. Interests include travel, languages, history, world issues, wine, and outdoor activities such as camping, snow skiing, skeet/trap shooting, and gardening.

Posted in Tree Advice, Tree Preservation, Tree Research Tagged with: , , , , , , ,
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Being a leader in the tree care industry means continually focusing on learning and innovation. Bartlett’s Tree Topics blog follows in that tradition by offering a place to receive advice on trees, tree pests, tree preservation, and more.

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