2021 Update on Ash Trees in Nursery Wood

As I write this update in mid September 2021 it is a case of deja vu in Nursery Wood. Once again blackened ash leaves are littering the ground beneath several of the ash trees. These are the very same ash trees that had leaf loss in Autumn 2017 – I know because I tagged several of the worst affected trees in 2017. Looking back through my blogs I can see that there have been major outbreaks of Chalara, leading to blackened leaves and early leaf fall, in 2013, 2017 and now in 2021 – once every 4 years.

This time around I know that the trees will recover next Summer but what is the long term effect of losing so much foliage in August? It is evident that the affected trees have less girth and are of poorer form than those ash trees not affected by early leaf fall. It might be expected that these trees will lose out through natural selection. They will certainly be the trees that we will be thinning in the years ahead.

Ash seed bed

This year I have grown a crop of ash from seed collected from the healthiest trees in Nursery Wood. In mid September the ash seedlings are looking good. Half of the ash seedlings have been treated with a foliar fungicide, the other half is untreated. There are no signs of blackening leaves on either the treated or untreated plants. I expect to have about 3,000 30-60cm seedlings for sale this coming planting season. Whether I can sell them is another matter.

Privet hawkmoth caterpillar

Meanwhile my ash seedlings are proving very popular with privet hawkmoths.