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Warm weather not expected to damage early tree growth

Times Observer photo by Josh Cotton A mild winter coupled with unseasonably warm temperatures has caused many trees, like these at Point Park in Warren, to bud.

This winter has been undoubtedly mild.

And with temperatures peaking up into the 60s, signs of spring are starting to appear.

But it’s still only February.

And that means those signs of spring – buds on trees, flowers popping up – could still be in for a cold, snowy surprise.

“It doesn’t seem like we’re going to have enough warm weather to really push things,” Cecile Stelter, district forester for the state Bureau of Forestry explained. “I don’t see that there’s going to be any damage.”

Stelter said that could change if we were to see a “few days of really warm weather” followed by a cold downturn.

“We could see winter or freeze damage,” she said.

This time of year is typically a good time to do winter pruning for trees that are dormant.

“I would use care with that this year,” Stelter said, “so as to not add stress to the trees.”

She explained that temperature fluctuations like we’re currently experiencing “trigger some mechanisms in the trees.

“(I would) probably prune on the light side this year,” she said, explaining that guidance is to never prune more than 30 percent of a tree. “I would even be a little lighter on that this year.”

“Even silver maples are starting to get fooled by this,” she said.

“Winter can show up at any time,” City of Warren Arborist Joe Reinke said, calling it a “weird year.”

“It may be google for maple syrupers but buds are starting to pop,” he said. “It’s still February.”

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