We have a pyramidal oak tree about 35′ and probably about 20 – 30 years old in Scarborough, full sun, clay/loam.
Over the last 4 years it is developing more and more drooping, some minor limbs and two large groups of limbs. This is occurring throughout all levels of the tree.
Are there any remedial actions that I should be taking?
Thank you for contacting the Toronto Master Gardeners with your inquiry.
Without phtographs of your tree it is difficult to give an acturate answer as to what could be affecting your tree. You don’t mention when you are observing the drooping branches. Do you see this happening during the summer, only after the winter? Do you happen to notice any brown spots on the leaves of the sagging branches? If the leaves have the brown spots on them, are they only concentrated to that one dropping branch or are they uniform over the entire tree? Also, do you see anything abnormal with the bark on the drooping branches or the trunk of the tree?
There is an excellent article from the Missouri Botanical Garden on Oak Problems which lists numerous possibilites along with photos which illustrae the various diseases.
In my research I did happen to find an article publised by Brent McGhie, Butte County Master Gardener, August 14, 2015, titled Summer Branch Drop in Oaks “Summer branch drop is not related to wind and often occurs in the afternoon on hot, calm days. Unlike most breaks due to wind, which occur where a branch attaches to the trunk, a break due to summer branch drop usually occurs 3 to 12 feet away from the trunk, along the length of the branch. The branches that break are usually long and horizontal, as opposed to upright, frequently extending to or beyond the average tree canopy. While some limbs that drop show evidence of wounds or decay, many of these failed limbs appear to be quite sound. Older, less vigorous trees seem to be more prone to this problem. Once a tree has lost a limb due to summer branch drop, it is more likely to lose another.”
My suggestion would be have a certified arborist come in and look at the tree. He will be able to make recommendatrions to the cause and care of the tree. To find a certified professional arborist to help you with a tree problem, visit the Ontario branch of the International Society of Arboriculture here.