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Drought Forces Trees To ‘False Autumn’ Says Expert

Published on: 22 Aug, 2022
Updated on: 22 Aug, 2022

By Hugh Coakley

With autumn officially starting on September 22 according to the Met Office, the early shedding of leaves and the beautiful change of colours in our trees makes it look as if the season is a full month early.

Leaves coming off trees outside of the Royal Surrey County Hospital a month before the official autumn date could be due to drought rather than aurtumn conditions.

However, expert Leigh Hunt, senior horticultural advisor at the Royal Horticultural Society, has called it a “false autumn” as it is drought pushing trees into survival mode, not a response to autumnal conditions.

He said: “It’s giving the appearance that we’re already in autumn, but the days are too long for those natural autumn processes to begin.”

Mr Hunt added that the change in the colour and the early fall of leaves is evidence the trees are stressed. He says in all his 45 years, this is one of the most severe years he’s seen in terms of damage to trees in the countryside and some may end up dying.

Is it autumn already?

Established trees are more likely to withstand drought as they have a more extensive network of roots but younger trees, such as those planted on poor soil at the edge of roads, could wither and die.

Notice on Worplesdon Parish Council benches warning of potential danger from falling tree branches.

Worplesdon Parish Council has reacted to the conditions to advise people to not sit under “our trees or on benches which are directly under trees”.

The notice pinned on benches in the parish say the “risk of falling branches after heavy rainfall, following a drought period, cannot be ruled out”.

Parish clerk Gaynor White said there had been no incidents of falling branches and the notices were “purely precautionary”.

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