Driest September in 130 years may bring spring struggle - KMSP-TV

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Driest September in 130 years may bring spring struggle

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  • Driest September in 130 years may bring spring struggleMore>>

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    Please help water the trees in St. Paul

    Tuesday, September 11 2012 4:37 PM EDT2012-09-11 20:37:03 GMT
    The city of St. Paul is asking residents to help water trees. The dry weather is putting stress on trees and can lead to a weakened condition more susceptible to illness, disease and premature death.
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  • Drought may draw fall colors out fast

    Drought may draw fall colors out fast

    Monday, September 3 2012 10:02 PM EDT2012-09-04 02:02:43 GMT
    Photo courtesy of Gene LangePhoto courtesy of Gene Lange
    Labor Day marks the unofficial end of summer, but the leaves are already starting to turn.
    Labor Day marks the unofficial end of summer, but the leaves are already starting to turn.

Farmers nationwide have been struggling with drought this year, but next year could be even worse now that fields are facing winter without the six to nine inches of rain they'll need to be ready for a good spring planting.

So far, only about .3 inches of rain has fallen this month, which is two inches below average.

While few homeowners are complaining about the unusually dry September, their landscaping could languish next year.

"If any plant material goes into winter -- a Minnesota winter -- stressed, that can cause problems," Garden Guy Dale K explained.

While lawns tend to be hardy and only need about an inch of water a week to stay healthy, evergreens and new plants are vulnerable to a dry fall. To protect evergreens, a plant protector called Wilt Stop can reduce the moisture loss.

"A relatively inexpensive insurance policy for that is to water before the ground freezes in the fall," Dale K explained. "Ii know the water bill might be a little higher, but at least you'll have plants that come back in the spring because there is a chance -- the ripple effect is-- they just don't come back in the spring."

For a deep soak, water your plants slowly for a long time. Using a hose timer can help avoid wasting water, and they work just like light timers inside a home.

It's also important to avoid fertilizing plants when they are stressed, but how can you tell?

"One of the simple signs of stress is what we call 'flagging,' where leaves will just naturally tilt down," Dale K said.

After 18 years in Minnesota, Dale K told FOX 9 News this is the first time he will water his established trees to protect them against winter damage.

The Department of Natural Resources is also keeping an eye on the warm weather that has kept firefighters busy in the northern part of the state.

"We're in an extreme drought this year, and this is very abnormal," explained Rebecca Barnard. "Historically -- over the past 20 years, we've had 30 fires in the month of September for around 130 acres. This month, we're at 117 fires for 900 acres."

Burning restrictions are in place for parts of northwestern and central Minnesota, which means residents can't burn their fallen leaves.

"Only campfires in a designated camp fire receptacle are being allowed, and that must be associated with campgrounds or a resident," Barnard said.

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