Cool, wet summer has been boon for trees — but for weeds and pests as well

Crabgrass has flourished in northeast Johnson County this summer on account of the cool, wet weather.
Crabgrass has flourished in northeast Johnson County this summer on account of the cool, wet weather.

If the 90-plus degree temperatures have hit you especially hard over the past couple of days, there’s probably a good reason for it: With an abnormally cool summer in northeast Johnson County that didn’t see a single 100 degree day, many people simply aren’t accustomed to the heat.

And while the wetter-and-cooler-than-normal summer may have meant slower traffic at local pools on many weeks, it was a boon to local plants.

Dennis Patton, the Horticulture Agent at Johnson County K-State Research and Extension, said that although many plant species in our area are drought tolerant, they tend to flourish in wetter and cooler weather.

“Overall the rains and cooler conditions were a blessing to local flora,” he said.

However, lovely cultivated species aren’t the only ones that enjoyed this summer’s weather. Weeds love it, too.

“Crabgrass in lawns have been bad this summer,” Patton said. “One is it germinated freely and two the rains decreased the effectiveness of chemical controls. Giant ragweed, which is one of our primary pollen producers in the fall is big and robust. This could be a banner fall for allergy issues if all this pollen develops from the big and healthy plants.”

Unfortunately, the bad news doesn’t end there. Patton said the weather has helped a number of undesirable insects to flourish.

“I would assume that there will be a nice crop of home invaders this fall such as boxelder bugs, Asian ladybugs and the like that attempt to move later this fall,” he said. “There could also be an outbreak of the Oak Itch Mite as many of our Pin Oaks have the galls that cause this biting pest.”

But, let’s end on a positive note. The upside of the cool and wet summer is that it gave trees a much-needed breather after several recent years of record-breaking heat.

“When we are in a drought and the trees are stressed they use the stored energy to survive,” Patton said. “It is summers like these that help the trees to build back up their reserves for a future ‘rainy day.'”