Many comments from people about how the trees are slow to grow foliage this spring, and that some of the foliage is undersized. The fact that the north central and northeast United States had one of it’s coldest springs in 10 years has something to do with the problem. The year over year change in national temperatures was the 3rd greatest change towards much colder weather in 114 years of records. In other words, what a difference a year makes with this May ranking in the top 30 of coldest in history compared to last year’s 11th warmest in history.
The combination of cool soil temperatures that stayed in the 50 to 60 degree range along with dry conditions along with cool air temperatures and some light frost nights caused the trees to move slowly in producing good size foliage here in southwest Michigan. Leaves are a high percentage of water, and if conditions are dry along with consistantly below normal temperatures, slow undersized foliage can be the end result. Some of these trees are also demonstrating the effects of the drought and heat from last summer with heavy seed production. Hang in there, soil temperatures and air temperatures will normalize someday (I hope). If weather conditions remain dry in June, supplement with some soaking waterings along the drip line and consider the use of a water/root feeder like a Ross root feeder in the root zone. Also remember to feed deciduous trees in the fall just as or after they are losing their leaves. The problem this year is as they wake up, the roots are sluggish in cold soil and the soil is dry not providing adequate water for vigorous translocation.