ice storm prep?

Discussion in 'Maples' started by paxi, Dec 14, 2008.

  1. paxi

    paxi Active Member

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    well we're about to get an ice storm here in st. louis. I have about 50 young trees, and about 25 frost protek covers (shortsighted here) so I will make do with what I have got. I am hoping and assuming that the only main danger her is of branch break as the trees are obviously dormant at this point. Any other suggestions out there?
     
  2. togata57

    togata57 Generous Contributor 10 Years

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    If your trees are healthy---if you have planted them correctly and maintained them well---you have done the largest part of prevention already.

    Prayer might be a good idea.

    We had a HUGE, power-out-for-days ice storm here a couple of years ago...elementally scary. Never forget the sound of the ice hissing as it fell from the sky, everywhere...followed by the sound of tree limbs cracking, tearing, falling to the ground with impact that was felt even more than heard.

    Paxi, I hope that you and your trees will come through it all unscathed!---and that your power stays on. Let us know how things are. GOOD LUCK!!!
     
  3. Kaitain4

    Kaitain4 Well-Known Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    If you can tie up the limbs of any particularly "willowy" trees it might help. Think of the way they wrap up Christmas Trees. Pull limbs up and toward the center, wrapping carefully with twine. Not practical, of course, on any large trees.

    Another thing you can do is to hose the trees down with water. Sounds crazy, but your tap water is way above freezing, and can melt off a lot of the thick accumulation. You'll wind up with a much thinner coating of ice.

    And if you're REALLY crazy like I am, a few space heaters under a particularly well-loved tree can do miracles. Must protect them from the water, of course. Tarps and stakes. Make sure you use a fused power strip!! :-)
     
  4. paxi

    paxi Active Member

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    yeah, I was in that ice storm as well. lost power for five days, but the pipes didn't burst so no complaining. the tree cracking was indeed a crazy sound which I won't forget. thanks for the suggestions. didn't hear anything against using those frost protek bags so that is a bit encouraging. Given that almost exactly 1/2 are covered, it should make for a nice controlled "experiment" in spring. Now I am just stalling taking the dogs out for the evening pee.... :)
     
  5. paxi

    paxi Active Member

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    well all seems to be well. The ice accumulation was not as bad as expected. I am not so sure about using the frost protection bags. While the tree remained spotless beneath, if there had been more accumulation, I am worried that the weight of the frozen bag (it did collect some surface water) could have caused the spindlier of the trees to collapse. In addition the bags stuck on a few occasions to the tree stake causing some holes with removal. I suspect these bags are best left for, well.....frost!
     
  6. togata57

    togata57 Generous Contributor 10 Years

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    Glad to hear that you and the trees are OK. Yeah, from what I've read, the Protec bags are for frost protection...A friend of mine once got one of those windshield covers that are advertised as the final answer to ice---just whip it off and voila! Well, the expletive-deleted thing froze TO the windshield and had to be scraped off, along with the ice!

    Hey, guess what? Temps have been falling here all day, and we have winter storm warnings...weather folks are telling us to brace ourselves for that "wintry mix", including everyone's favorite and central Ohio specialty: freezing rain! Can't wait to drive home from work tonight!

    Again, am glad you're OK.
     
  7. Kaitain4

    Kaitain4 Well-Known Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    Well, I guess we're next (*GULP!). They closed the schools down early and the warnings say we may get 1/2 an inch of ice accumulation. YIKES!! My only consolation is that I had my power lines buried this year.

    Paxi, I'm glad you survived unscathed - now start praying for me!! :-(
     
  8. kaydye

    kaydye Active Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    We had the same thing in Central Illinois. Is the Protec stuff you all are talking about the floating row cover material, white and gauzy? I wrap my maples here in it every year, as long as they are small enough. I bind them up pretty tight because of the problem of the weight of snow. If they aren't wrapped well, they will get topheavy. We had about the same amount of ice, but what I'm really worried is what they are calling for today. It hasn't been warm enough and no sun to make the ice melt, so it's still on the trees and they are calling for more snow and very strong winds, which they say could do more damage than the original ice. Then the temp is dropping dramatically. Anyway, it got me wondering about Japanese maples versus silver maples. I was wondering if JM are a hard, soft or medium wood tree? I don't think I've ever heard anyone talk about that. The silver maples around here are junk trees that no one in their right mind plants in their yard (although they are all over) and when we have an ice or windy storm of some kind you can see why. So, I'm wondering which species of maples are considered harder maples and how could I find the information?

    Good luck to all who have to deal with the unknown in winter. It's great to hear about the problems as far as not feeling like the only one worrying about what is around the corner, weather-wise.
     
  9. winterhaven

    winterhaven Active Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    This is what I put over 4 of my new trees. Wish I had more of them. Especially now that they're calling for icy snow here, too.

    I planted in the fall for the first time, I don't think I like it. At least if I plant in Spring or even Summer, I can control some things. If it's really really hot, I can water frequently. I can't unfreeze the ground or remove excess water. This weather is killing me!
     

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  10. Wolvie150

    Wolvie150 Active Member

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    Those propane heaters have been used by someone who gave our MGE program a talk (KS), but they made an adaption to the height for their "dwarfed" fruit trees (growth controlled in large containers). There were also times they used the water spraying technique, too, but only for longer storms, and while it was icing (yes, we're really crazy here...)
    Another point is that this was definitely a 'home' orchard - they were planted in clusters for pollination. The apple trees were the only one with more and several varieties, and I think they only had about 10 total of those ???

    good luck, hope for best for ya...
    Wolvie

    p.s. winterhaven - the landscaping company I work for (I'm their "horticulturist" / softscaper) and these last two falls I had to transplant several plants in Nov. I know it's not freezing, but I found that actually planting from 2 pm - 4pm ish, the plants seemed to do better the current fall and next spring. Warmth delay of the ground from the sun, and still enough light and airflow in this area to help possible moisture problems. However, these are of course, smaller and medium sized perennials and shrubs. No experience with trees past early September here.
     
    Last edited: Dec 20, 2008
  11. emery

    emery Renowned Contributor Maple Society 10 Years

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    winterhaven, what a great looking cloche. How is it attached to the ground, though? Looks like a lot of wind cross-section, especially as I imagine you need to leave them unzipped to prevent getting too hot in the sun. Also I guess not cheap: would be a sizable investment to protect many little trees...

    I'm still planting here now, as we near Christmas. But I do find the winter wet is hard for some, if I have a doubt I plant in spring.

    -E
     
  12. winterhaven

    winterhaven Active Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    A friend of mine loaned them to me. He couldn't remember for sure where he got them; he thought maybe from Charlie's Greenhouse http://www.charleysgreenhouse.com/index.cfm?page=_a2&cid2=271&cid1=174. I'm looking at purchasing my own but they don't look exactly right to me. They look less tall. Next time I go out in the snow I'll have to measure the height.

    The ones my friend loaned me have little cloth strips at the bottom with little metal rings. My friend loaned me some light weight garden stakes so each clothe is staked down at six places. The first time I put them out I just stuck a few stakes in. Didn't really think about it and put the stakes in at the wrong angle so our first gust of wind caused one to go sailing. So I went back out and put the stakes in correctly and all around the umbrella. So far so good.

    And something interesting... when I went to reapply my little mini stakes if I tried to insert them into the ground outside of the umbrella's snow free area then the ground was too hard. If I put the point of the stake just inside the cleared area it sunk in like the ground was butter. I think the clothe is doing its job.

    Potential problem - the snow doesn't shed as well as I would like. So I've gone out three times a day and shaken the snow off them. I'm afraid if I just leave it alone that the weight of the snow will break the plastic and dump on the plant inside. Anyway it only takes a few moments to get most of the snow off.

    Another potential problem - they do get steamy on the inside. I've had mine all the way closed since the weather got down to freezing. We did have some sun, but not very much and it was still less than 32 F so I didn't unzip. I got some condensation that promptly froze that night. So the insides of the umbrellas are frosty. But I look at it this way: the trees aren't getting dried out from the wind and their roots are less frozen and they're not getting delicate branches broken by snow or ice and there isn't so much condensation or warmth that I'm worried. So once it finally breaks freezing, I'll open the domes up wide and air them out.

    These photos demonstrate how much snow we got. The snow on the umbrellas accumulated from 10:00pm last night until 8:00am this morning. The benches have total accumulation.
     

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    Last edited: Dec 21, 2008
  13. winterhaven

    winterhaven Active Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    I just ordered eight at $14.95. Charlie's site says they are an exclusive, but I found them elsewhere on the web - for $27.95.
     
  14. winterhaven

    winterhaven Active Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    Wolvie, great point. Come to think of it, what I did plant this fall I planted in the afternoon. Hopefully that will help my little guys. But I am NEVER planting trees in the fall again. I'll plant in spring and summer when I have more control. And no, I'm not taking bets... I'll probably be planting every second that I can.

    BTW, it's snowing again! What the heck, it's not supposed to snow like this here. I am so grateful my friend loaned me the umbrellas.
     
  15. winterhaven

    winterhaven Active Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    Be careful with the water. K4's advice seems to make sense after the ground is frozen. I asked someone about watering before a freeze because I read online in a few places to water before a frost. In regards to watering specifically before a freeze, this is what someone I trust told me. I won't say who because I didn't ask their permission before cutting and pasting. This was their response:

    I would NOT go with the watering.

    Watering is about the worst thing that can be done before a major freeze. What happens is that the plant will absorb the water and take most of it into the cambien layer of the tree. (cambien layer is the thin outer skin) As the temperatures drop, the cambien layer freezes. This usually will happen at ground level since most of the water is held in the soil. The tree trunk at soil level will eventually turn black because it froze and the tree will die. The root system may still live but, you will not have the grafted tree that you had purchased. I've had this happen a bunch of times and it is so frustrating. Now, I have learned to not water the trees after mid November since we would get our first freeze around the end of Nov. My trees will not be watered again until late March or April depending on how fast things heat up. Our last freeze could be in April or early May.

    The water situation that was mentioned could have been for frost situations. Watering before a frost is sufficient if you want to keep the tree looking good with leaves still on it. A frost doesn't matter if the leaves are dropped.
     
  16. winterhaven

    winterhaven Active Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    As an alternative to heaters, I read online somewhere about using Christmas lights. I guess the warmth of the bulbs helps keep the branches unfrozen. And it's pretty, too. Maybe it would prevent large amounts of ice? I wonder if the new LED lights are warm like the old fashioned kind?
     
    Last edited: Dec 21, 2008
  17. paxi

    paxi Active Member

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    yes, I think so:

    http://www.frostprotek.com/large.html

    Pros: 1) very quick and easy to get on and off - this is no small point when you are talking about trying to protect 50+ trees in inclement weather

    2) Nice little drawstring at the bottom. I have heard that you should not pull too tight at the base (http://warnerstreesurgery.com/Frost Protection.html - scroll down for good pic) but it is helpful to keep the thing from blowing off

    3) they are big enough to cover a fairly large tree - even if you cant cover the whole thing you can still protect most of it.

    Cons:

    1) Price - I got mine for 9.95 apiece; for what it is, winterhaven looks too have a better deal. If they last for 4-5 years at least I won't be complaining.

    2) at least for ice storms they stick to stakes and you are left with a hole in the cover
    when you take it off

    3) As mentioned, they don't exactly deflect moisture from the surface, so for big ice storms, I fear would do more damage than good. I think, though, it will do quite the trick for the frost.
     
  18. Kaitain4

    Kaitain4 Well-Known Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    OK, I LOVE the little cloches!! I would be even more excited about them if they were transluscent white instead of clear plastic (lots of issues with clear plastic). Must get some..

    As far as using water to protect plants - I think you ARE supposed to wait til its freezing to apply it, as the whole point is to have the water freeze on the plants, or to reduce accumulated ice in the case of an ice storm. However, I find it hard to believe that watering before a freeze can cause that much damage. Here in the South that's the norm - to have rain before a freeze. Most winter precip IS rain, not snow. In fact, over the past week it was raining here for several days, then turned 73 degrees, then switched to freezing temps literally in a few hours, and now its about to drop to single digit cold! If cambium layers were that sensitive there wouldn't be a thing living in the South except maybe some conifers!! :-0
     

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