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‘Don’t panic’: A&M Forest Service says not to fret over dead-looking trees

Pine Trees
Pine Trees((Source: KLTV))
Updated: Mar. 15, 2021 at 2:18 PM CDT
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LONGVIEW, Texas (KLTV) - The Texas A&M Forest Service said they have received a lot of calls from people concerned about discolored trees following February’s winter storm.

Allen Smith, Regional Forest Health Coordinator with the Texas A&M Forest Service, said typically this time of the year, pine trees and live oaks are green and are doing well. However, he said the freezes in February caused many of these trees to become discolored.

Smith said the forest service has flown several times over East Texas surveying trees and damage since the storm.

“We were originally worried about tree breakage, the ice breaking the trees off, we didn’t see any of that and we also didn’t see any of the discoloration, three days or so after we flew for the first time, we started noticing the discoloration so we flew again and we kind of mapped out and looked at where this discoloration was occurring and we decided that we’d look at the trees and kind of figured out that what happened is the needles froze and thankfully the trees kind of self-repair themselves and they wall that damage off, they drop the needles, and then they will refoliate with new needles,” Smith said.

Smith said the forest service expects most of the trees to survive without any major loss, but he did say there will be some that do die.

He said what is happening with the trees is somewhat expected given the unprecedented nature of what happened in February, but not at the level they are seeing.

“We’ve noticed there is a little bit of difference between the type of tree and the damage that we see,” Smith said.

According to Smith, Longleaf and Slash Pines took the worst of the damage with Loblolly Pines also being hit hard. He said Shortleaf Pines tended to survive better than the other types. He said Oak trees should be fine as they were in their dormant phase and not budding when the freezes occurred.

Smith had some advice for people who may think their trees were affected by the freeze.

“First of all, don’t panic,” he said. “Wait a little bit and make sure the tree is actually dead. Take a good look at it, there may be some green leaves and needles coming out and if that’s the case, you should be good to go. If the tree is actually dead, then you need to be in charge of when that tree falls down. It will fall down and you want to be the one that decides when and how and under what circumstances.”

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