Two tall valley oaks fell into Lodi Lake at around noon on Tuesday, uprooting the soil around them from the shore of the lake almost up to a walking path along the lake’s western shore.
The large root balls were visible to passersby, drawing the attention of several pedestrians and bicyclists who stopped to look.
Pete Melendez and Colin Likiliki, maintenance workers with Lodi Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services, soon arrived and put up three 10-foot sections of fencing to secure the area, roughly halfway between the Woodbridge Masonic Cemetery and Mills Avenue.
Meanwhile, on South Church Street near the Bank of the West, a large limb had broken off another tree and was hanging over the sidewalk, caught by its other branches. Orange cones blocked the sidewalk to keep anyone from walking underneath the dangling branch.
City workers quickly arrived on the scene, cutting down the limb and hauling it away.
There are a number of reasons a branch may break off or a tree may fall during the summer, said Kerri Reid, an environmental horticulture advisor for San Joaquin County office of University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources.
When trees have foliage in the summer, they can absorb more water, and that makes them extra heavy, she said. That, combined with other stressors like disease or insects that may weaken the connection of a branch to the trunk, can cause a branch to break off. It’s a common occurrence, she said, and it even has a name: summer branch drop.
That’s likely what happened with the tree on South Church Street, according to Lodi Public Works Director Charlie Swimley.
“It just pulled up more moisture than that particular limb could handle,” he said.
A similar situation occurred a couple years ago in Glaves Park, where two massive valley oaks started dropping limbs during the hot summer. The city ended up removing both trees because they had gotten too top heavy, he said.
“Oak trees, when the weather gets hot, can suck up huge amounts of water and the water weight will sometimes break a limb,” he said.
It is important for property owners to pay attention to branches that look dry, especially if they are dying back or losing leaves, as that can indicate a problem, Reid said. She recommends having such a tree checked by an arborist.
In case of the valley oaks falling into Lodi Lake, an eroding soil line may have been a factor, Reid said. When there is soil erosion along a shoreline, a tree may not have enough physical support to remain standing.
At this time, city workers aren’t sure what caused the two oaks at the lake to fall, Swimley said. Parks staff will get together on Thursday to determine how to deal with the fallen trees, and the fencing will remain in place for now, he said.
Anyone who sees a city tree with a dead or dry-looking limb, that is leaning, or that otherwise appears to be in bad shape, should report it by calling 209-368-5735, Swimley said.
News-Sentinel staff writer K. Cathey contributed to this report.