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Forestry experts say trees need water during extreme heat, dry conditions

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BATON ROUGE - When winds pick up, a dry tree during hurricane season can be bad news for a nearby house or car. The recent drought in Louisiana is hurting trees that desperately need water for function and protection.

Dr. Hallie Dozier is an urban forestry specialist and professor at Louisiana State University. 

"Water your trees, that's the bottom line," she said.

It's easy to remember to water a favorite house plant, but when the outdoors feels more like an oven, trees need extra care too. Dr. Thomas Dean, a professor of forestry at LSU, emphasizes the threat pine trees face during a drought.

"They use water to defend themselves from bark beetles drilling inside," Dean said. "If they don't have enough water pressure, it's kind of slow, but like a water can, they push the needles back out."

With the added risk of damage during hurricane season with strong winds, a stressed tree is more susceptible to roots shrinking and permanent damage.

"If [a tree] is drought stressed, if it's any kind of stressed, but drought is a big one, and of course high temperatures, the tree is going to be more vulnerable to any kind of damage," Dozier said. "Whether it's wind, insects, or disease."

The LSU AgCenter recommends watering a tree's base with a slow drip, so it can easily absorb through the roots at a depth of about six to eight inches.

"There's something called sudden limb drop that happens," Dozier said. "It's fairly common in a variety of oak species, and it typically coincides with long periods of hot dry weather."

She says if a tree looks dead after a period of dry conditions, it's best to contact a licensed arborist.

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