Caption: Jamie notes the mature ash (on field boundary) has been frosted (no leaves).
Caption: Valley bottom trees are not in leaf (birch being the exception) with the ash and oak remaining brown.
With ash dieback well established in Cumbria, Cumbria Woodlands’ team noticed that this has been a difficult season for our native tree, even without ash dieback.
Our project officer, Jamie Chaplin-Brice, noted ash trees in St John’s in the Vale looking sub-par and has interpreted this as being partly a result of late frost, plus a dry spring. We’ve included his photos to accompany our thoughts, and invite you to share your own observations.
Jamie notes the mature ash (on field boundary) has been frosted (no leaves) as has the oak behind (brown leaves). There may be enough buds remaining on the ash for it to come into leaf. But there may be a few bare or brown trees which might mistakenly identify them as dead/severely diseased. Some rain will help, but they may look a bit sad all year!
Valley bottom trees are not in leaf (birch being the exception) with the ash and oak remaining brown. The trees up slope (towards Blencathra) are all in green leaf. The foreground ash have experienced a knock back because they are in a frost pocket. The ash trees up the hill have come into leaf as they have not been affected by frost. Jamie adds that it’s possible the frosted/late leafing trees may be more susceptible to ash dieback as a result. Time will tell.
Barnaby Wylder, Forestry Commission’s Tree Health Officer also noticed that the ash in Grizedale is late in emerging (or yet to emerge) and observed some short pollards with frosted leaves still attached. Our former director and regional forestry consultant, Edward Mills, has also witnessed the black crispy frost-damaged leaves and states that it’s mostly too early for the ash leaves to be wilting from dieback. He recorded the latest and most severe frost in Witherslack for 25+ years. This has resulted in some severely damaged oak, beech and others, including yew, and this, he adds, has been compounded by an astonishingly dry spell. The consistently cold nights have caused the ash to flush late, even as they flush the second time after frost damage.
However, Edward, Barnaby and Jamie would lie to encourage you all, “not to panic fell” thinking the ash are dead – please be patient! Also consider that dead wood is a rare and crucial habitat (2,000+ UK deadwood invertebrate species, supporting birds, mammals, plants, fungi and mosses – even fish that rely on deadwood habitat in streams!).
In addition, Barnaby has hinted that it might be a busy year for Phytophthora. Although Edward adds that larch exhibiting browning of new foliage might have experienced drought… possibly a tricky distinction for Barnaby and his Plant Health Forestry team!