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Hypoxylon Canker

Tip Die-back Oak with hypoxylon canker (Photo by J. Pase) Bark sloughing off

Hypoxylon Canker is a fungus, common in the Southeastern United States, caused by Biscogniauxia atropunctata var. atropunctata.  Hypoxylon Canker, also known as “white rot”,  most commonly affects: oaks, pecans, and hickory trees. This opportunistic pathogen easily infects trees that have gone through stresses such as: drought, compaction, root injury, construction, trenching, grade changes, and root diseases.  Hypoxylon canker is a vascular disease, meaning it affects a tree’s “plumbing system.”  The tissues (xylem) that conduct water from the soil to the leaves are damaged by the fungus. Basically anything that will cause the moisture levels of the tree to decrease will cause the fungus to become more active.  Some trees that are healthy and have adequate moisture content can defend themselves against infection.  This is a very fast and difficult disease for the tree to overcome.  Depending on the tree’s potential targets, it may be necessary to go ahead and remove the tree ASAP.

The first symptom of Hypoxylon Canker is a thinning crown.  Thinning crowns are common with many different  stresses to a tree.  Do some more investigating and take a look at the bark of the tree.  The bark will start to slough off and collect at the base of the tree.  Once the bark sloughs off it will reveal the brownish fungal stroma where the asexual conidia are formed. Conida are most often spread by wind/rain and can cause infections on other trees.  As the infection progresses the brownish spots will begin to turn a grayish/silver color and eventually black.  Once the infection turns black, this is where the sexual spores are produced.  These spores are mostly spread by splashing rain, wind, and insects.  While there is no control, the best thing to do is promote vigor in the tree by stimulating the root system with our patented process.

To avoid Hypoxylon Canker  from becoming a significant problem in your trees:

  1. Increase the overall health and vigor of  your trees with regular and ongoing deep root fertilization.  More aggressive programs may be required to help rehabilitate stressed or damaged trees.
  2. Regularly check your trees for any weak, damaged, or dead limbs.  If present, pruning may be necessary.
  3. Avoid any injury to the trunk and limbs of a tree.  By reducing injuries, the trees are healthier and the chances of infection are reduced.
  4. Avoid grade changes around a trees root system.  This will cause root injury and decline in the tree.
  5. Use extreme caution when disturbing the  environment of any existing tree.  A tree becomes much more likely to develop a problem the older and larger it gets.  A mature tree is much less resilient to even minor changes in its environment than a younger tree.  This includes any activities such as trenching, compaction, construction, and grade change.

Fulgham’s Inc. provides free consultations.  If you would like us to take a look at your trees please give us a call at 1-800-316-3360.

– Matt Copley



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Live Oak Recovery Following Katrina

Fulghams Inc.’s patented technology not only keeps the vigor in trees, but it can also reverse the negative effects that hurricanes cause to the soil.  To say that Hurricane Katrina was a devastating storm is an understatement.  The storms had winds that reached up to 160 MPH and had surge waters that exceeded 25 feet in some areas.  One aspect of the storm that didn’t get much attention is the adverse affect it had on the Live Oak population all along the Gulf Coast.  The 160 MPH gust caused major damage by blowing bark, leafs, and branches off the trees (if they weren’t uprooted).  Another negative effect of the storm was the surge water.  The standing water cut off the oxygen supply to the root system and dumped large quantities of salt into the soil.

Fulghams Inc.’s cutting-edge technology is able to reverse the negative impacts that Hurricane Katrina caused to the soil.  A grid pattern (which is illustrated below) is laid out under the canopy of the tree to maximize its effectiveness of the treatment.  The machine Fulghams Inc. uses does a two-in-one combination with each treatment.  Fulgham’s Inc. uses an aeration/deep root stimulation process to rehabilitate the feeder roots of the tree.  This process helps alleviate soil compaction and re-develop the soil flora found in a forest soil.  The liquid injection that is used in this process is a close kept trade secret and is high in micronutrients that are vital to the tree’s well being.  This liquid injection also helps break down the high salt concentrations left by hurricanes. tree grid

The pictures below show Katrina’s extensive damage to Live Oaks, and a timeline of a tree that Fulgham’s Inc. treated in Town Green Park in Bilox, MS.

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before1    before2   after

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Proper Tree Selection

Proper Tree Selection is so important for tree longevity and future aesthetics in a particular site. Do yourself a favor and research what type of tree will best suite your site. Pick a tree based on its size at maturity that will fit your space and not the size when it is planted. Consider your surroundings; do not plant a tall growing tree under a power line or next to your house. The soil area must be large and healthy enough to support the tree structurally and nutritiously at its present and future size. Tree roots can go farther than 1-2 times the height of the tree. Give it room to grow! Most root stay in the top 6-12 inches of soil where there is oxygen and water available. If a tree does not have enough rooting area and/or poor soil or drainage issues, it most likely will look pitiful and probably die given time. Take a soil sample and have it analyzed at a soils lab before planting. That way you can try to correct soil problems before planting or choose a species of tree that grows well in that soil type.

When at a nursery or garden center picking out your tree, check the roots and root ball before purchasing a container or B&B tree. Make sure the root ball is solid, that there are no brown/black roots, no fungus, and no roots that are circling or bent awkwardly. These few things can haunt you later and deter tree growth and cause bad tree health. To have a structurally sound house you have to have a good foundation. It is the same principal with trees. If you have a good soil and root system, most often you will have a healthy tree. That being said, you need to also select a well formed and structurally sound tree.

Select a structurally sound tree. Select a tree with a good main leader. This all can depend on the species and variety you choose, but most large growing trees need to have a main leader or trunk, at least when young. As they mature, most trees round out at the top; they lose their dominant leader. While trees are young, you need to try to maintain a dominant leader; otherwise, the tree will not grow to its intended height and can have co-dominant leaders that can break when they are older. Large co-dominant branches, especially if they have included bark, may pose a hazard. They can potentially break at any time just because of the weight and week union. When large limbs break off an older tree, you usually lose a large portion of your canopy which decreases the aesthetics. Try to avoid this issue by training your tree structurally while it is young. A small amount of planning and maintenance can go a long way when considering the life of your tree.

Proper tree selection points:


–          type

–          size

–          soil, water, and temperature suitability

–          root issues

–          structure

Happy Planting!!!

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Proper Tree Planting

ProperPlantingSpec_NTProper Tree Planting brings to mind several essential elements associated with planting a tree: Proper Tree Selection, Proper Tree Placement, Proper Tree Pruning and Structure, and Proper Tree Maintenance.  I plan to address these issues separately in later Blog Posts.  Each element, along with correct planting, is necessary to help ensure longevity of the tree in its final location.  While these topics are all important, I am going to first talk about Proper Tree Planting.

Proper Tree Planting practices have been and are still today researched, taught, and publicized by many agricultural based universities and organizations.  Numerous publications, literature and guides can be found on the web that can be useful in learning the best way to plant all kinds of different plant material.  The planting of trees is usually not much different than that of planting other plants.  Really though, how hard is it to plant a tree?  I just pick any type tree I want, dig a hold, drop it in and forget about it, right?  WRONG!  Proper Tree Planting takes prior planning and maintenance care after planting to have a vigorous and healthy tree for future enjoyment and aesthetic pleasure.  No one wants to have their tree(s) cause a hazard, greater expense, dismay, and/or eyesore on their property.  When planting new trees or transplants, consider following these principles I have learned.  I will expound on each of these at a later date.

First, have a soil analysis done of your planting area.  This can be done by taking soil samples in the areas desired for planting and sending the samples to a soils lab to have them analyzed.  The analysis will determine the pH of your soil, the nutrient content and availability of those nutrients for plant uptake, and soil texture.  These are important facts to know.  The type of soil you have and the nutrients available in that soil will dictate how well different types of trees will grow.  Evaluate and correct soil problems before planting or they will affect your tree later.

Second, call 811 before you dig.  811 is a nationwide number that you can call to have all your underground utilities marked before you dig.  Please do NOT assume you know where all your underground utilities lie.  If you hit a line it may be fatal, let alone expensive and put a halt to your project.

Third, dig a large hole.  Make it at least two to three times the width of the tree’s root ball.  Find the top, main root and where it flares out from the trunk.  That root-flare needs to be 1” to 2” above the surrounding grade.  Do not make the hole deeper than the root ball, then backfill.  If the soil is too soft under the tree, it will most likely settle over time and cause the tree to sink and be planted too deep.  It is better to plant high and taper the soil out from the root ball than planting too deep.  Planting deep can cause many problems which I can discuss in another post.

Fourth, only backfill with the native soil.  Research has shown the addition of amendments at planting to be of little benefit.  The tree has to get acclimated to the native soil at some point.  If a particular tree has trouble growing in the native soil of the selected site, it may not need to be planted there.  Consider a different variety or a completely different species that is adapted to your site’s environment.

Fifth, water regularly for the first year for good establishment, but do not overwater.  Overwatering can cause rot and fungus.  Water only as needed with deep soakings, letting the soil dry out some before the next soaking.  This will help promote a deep root system that will be drought tolerant.  Shallow, frequent watering promotes shallow roots, which can dry out easily.  After the first year, most trees only need 1” of water per week.

Sixth, stake only when necessary.  If the tree will not stand on its own or leans, staking may be required.  Promptly remove all staking, wires, ties, and wraps after one year.  Removal of staking is required to prevent girdling of the trunk and let the tree sway to build trunk girth and strength.

I hope this six point overview has given you a good sense of Proper Tree Planting.

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Affects of Irrigation Installation on Trees

Water and oxygen are the two most important factors that trees need to survive. Trees are just like humans they need these nutrients to survive. When these resources are limited trees begin to decline, and, when a tree declines you begin to see dieback of leafy material in the upper portions of a tree’s crown. Water is one of the biggest reasons for this. During the summer, drought typically occurs and leaves begin to wilt and dry up. Irrigation systems can fix this issue and keep a tree healthy, and help it to live longer. However poor irrigation planning can have the complete opposite effect and can kill a tree. Planning for your irrigation system is the best way to keep a tree alive. Simple measures can be taken to ensure healthy trees for the future.

More times than not, improper irrigation installation occurs. Most installers  use  trenching methods to put in irrigation lines. Most of the tree’s roots are located within the top 12 inches of soil; however, irrigation lines are typically put in about 20 inches deep. This type of method severally damages a tree’s root system causing issues to arise such as: absorption of nutrients, desiccation (drying out of roots), and infestation of pests and disease. These issues stress out a tree which causes decline and ultimately death. If a root system is damaged within the dripline, the best remedy is to keep the tree adequately watered to prevent drying out and to limit stress.


There are two alternative methods of irrigation installation that can keep a tree healthy. One method is to trench outside of the tree’s dripline. This ensures the majority of the tree’s roots stays intact allowing an easier ability to fight off pests and disease. The second method method involves tunneling underneath the roots, limiting root damage. Once the tunnels have been made the irrigation lines can be pulled through.

Once the irrigation lines are installed, another issue arises, over watering. This is an issue we see on a regular basis. Just as too little water can kill a tree, too much water can do the same thing. As stated earlier trees need air in order to survive, if there is to much water the roots can not breath, which causes disease to occur, root rot and water molds. These fungi and bacteria are present in the soil and are out competed by other healthier bacteria; however, these pests strive in wet environments, and when the environment favors them they can cause many problems. The roots will look black and tear apart easy. Healthy roots are white and fleshy and won’t pull apart easy. The upper branches will begin to have dieback in the tips and the crown will look very sparse.

Many times irrigation is used on a daily basis, even during wet seasons. Limiting the amount of water in the environment will help to keep the trees healthy. Applying 1-3 inches of water a week is adequete for good growth and developments. If the root systems were damaged during installation increasing the amount of water would be beneficial. Placing a layer of mulch 2-4 inches thick will help to keep moisture in the soil. Mulch will also help relieve compaction and competition.

David Ohlrich

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