Visits to golf courses in recent weeks have revealed some interesting problems with golf course trees, particularly with prominent California specimens such as coast live oak (Quercus agrifolia) and coast redwoods (Sequoia sempervirens). Whether it’s the limited rainfall or the temperature fluctuations this spring – nobody knows, but these species are having a tough time this spring in some locations.
California oakworm (Phryganidia californica)
The California oakworm has been very active on coast live oak in some locations in northern California. The aggressive feeding habit of the larvae has defoliated trees, but the insect pest has a symbiotic relationship with the trees. The insects eat a lot, but need the trees to survive for future feeding and survival. No need to panic. Despite stripping the trees of leaves, the emergence of new leaves and steady recovery typically occurs from late May through July. Insecticide treatments have limited effect, so save your money and let the trees take care of themselves. Further information on this pest of oak trees is available at the University of California IPM website at UC - IPM California Oakworm
Coast redwood stress
Coast redwoods depend on deep, heavy water from winter rainfall for normal growth and development. During years with limited rain, such as this year, trees may show sign of stress and discoloration. Deep watering around the base of the trees may snap them out of the funk, but the real tonic is a normal year of heavy winter rains. Again don’t panic and let the trees manage through the situation.
Information on the USGA’s Turf Advisory Service
Contact the Green Section Staff