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Texas A&M Forest Service Experts Continue To Monitor Drought

Cooler temperatures and minimal rainfall will do little to help trees affected by drought and extreme heat conditions.

According to the Texas A&M Forest Service Forest Drought application, 85% of the state is experiencing some drought, including 57.6 million acres of the state’s 60 million acres of forestland. The effects becoming apparent.

Trees in the Rio Grande Valley, Davis Mountains, Southern Plains, Cross Timbers, and Hill Country show the most effect from the conditions and the most change in greenness. Whether that change is from stress or mortality can only be determined with time.

Leaves turning brown and dropping before fall is the most common symptom, but others include oak trees lacking acorns, scorching leaves, tip burn, and hypoxylon canker.

Texas A&M Forest Service uses a combination of remote sensing satellite imagery and on-the-ground observations to monitor the health and productivity of forests.

The agency uses High-Resolution Forest Monitoring System (HiForm), a USDA Forest Service product, that uses satellites to produce Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) change products to monitor changes in forests that result from severe weather, wildland fire, logging, insects, and disease.

NDVI shows how green plants are. A change or deviation in NDVI means that trees change their chlorophyll signature and show either stress or mortality, even if it’s not yet evident for some regions.

As forecasters predict the drought to continue through November, landowners should remain diligent in caring for the health of their trees and forests. Continued monitoring is also critical to assess the overall impact and determine the next steps fully since trees may be dormant and leaf out again in the spring.

Managed landscapes are generally far more resilient to extreme weather conditions. Hence, landowners can take essential actions, including planting locally adapted trees, caring for invasive, and providing supplemental water to high-value trees.

Texas A&M Forest Service experts are available to provide tips on how to keep trees healthy during extreme drought conditions.

For additional information on drought and trees, visit