By Amy Grotta, OSU Forestry & Natural Resources Extension – Columbia, Washington & Yamhill Counties
Often around this time of year, I’ll get a question from a small woodland owner asking whether it’s worth the trouble to try to water their newly planted tree seedlings. My standard reply has always been “No”. Of course, in most cases, it’s not even a practical consideration, because the logistical challenges of delivering water to hundreds, if not thousands of seedlings on steep or rough terrain far from any water source far outweigh any potential benefits. I also point out that our Douglas-fir trees are adapted to withstand dry summers. After all, millions of Douglas-fir trees are planted each year in Oregon, and most of them make it without any supplemental water. And, I know one or two woodland owners who have watered trees that they were concerned about, only to have them die anyway.
But this year, after fielding the question of watering young trees again, I started to think a little more about my standard answer. After all, all signs are pointing another drought year. Scientists predict that summers in the Pacific Northwest are only going to get hotter and drier in the future. In light of these factors it doesn’t seem like an unreasonable question. Continue reading