The Q&A Archives: Trees repeatedly perish in same spot

Question: Row of AZ Cyprus trees. All very healthy except two adjacent trees which have died. These two replaced ones which perished a yr. before in exact same spot. Why? Soil seems no different in this spot and water perks down quickly in the sandy soil. Area is on former ranchland where there were no buildings or chances for chemical spills, etc. All trees were watered the same with drip system which I constantly check so I'm assured they rec'd. water. Very puzzled. I hesitate to replace the trees again for fear of same result. I saw nothing on roots of dead trees. Help!

Answer: That is puzzling. Normally, I would suggest the things that you have already checked, such as the watering and potential contamination. Have you dug down far enough to see that there are no obstructions or other problems and that water is indeed draining and not pooling below causing root rot? But then, it's likely you'd see root rot. Did the plants yellow before dying? It might indicate salt burn, for example, caused by water not soaking beyond the root zone, allowing salts to build up in the root area and eventually kill the tree. Overfertilization can burn roots and kill a plant. And finally, there is the possibility that some plants just aren't as vigorous as others and don't survive the transplant shock. However, it is peculiar that it happened twice in the same spot. I suggest you check with your local County Cooperative Extension office to see if they are aware of any issues related to that species and local conditions. Do you still have the dead plants? If so, it might be worthwhile to take them a sample of the foliage and roots anyway for analysis. Ask them about a soil test as well. They have offices in Cottonwood 646-9113, and Prescott, 445-6590. Good luck!

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