When too many stressors impact your maple tree, it can lead to a condition known as maple decline. With so many invasive species, like the emerald ash borer, invading the US, you may think maple decline is caused by yet another bug. However, it’s the result of a more holistic problem. And taking a holistic approach is how you can save a tree impacted by maple decline. For this month’s blog, we’ll talk about identifying the symptoms of maple decline, what the causes are, and how to address the issue.
What Causes Maple Decline
As we touched on above, you might think this is the result of a bug infestation, but this is not the case. Maple decline is actually when a variety of stressors attack the tree. In urban environments, these include drought, de-icing salts, insects, or construction that may impact the roots of the tree. Sidewalks and driveways are one example. These initial stressors may lead to secondary problems, particularly on the microscopic scale. Diseases like root rot set in, making it even harder for the tree to recover from the initial problems. Much like high stress will impact a human’s health, high stress will actually alter the tree’s internal chemistry. In basic terms, it’s like wiping out the tree’s immune system and making it more susceptible to attack from microorganisms and bugs until the tree is overwhelmed and eventually dies.
What Are The Symptoms Of Maple Decline
Fall Colors Come Early
Typically, maples will begin to show their autumn colors in mid or late-September. However, if a tree is suffering from maple decline, you may notice changes in late July or early August. Not only will the branches turn to fall colors ahead of schedule, but the leaves will be noticeably smaller.
The foliage of a maple impacted by decline will be sparse, light green, or scorched. A healthy maple should have thick dark green foliage. “Scorched” leaves will look brown, dry, and brittle. This could be caused by drought, exposure to de-icing salts, or infection by a bacterium known as Xylella fastidiosa.
Lack Of Growth
There’s no set standard for how many new twigs your tree should produce each year, nor is there a set standard for where the twigs spring up. If, however, the distance from bud to bud is less than or equal to five cm on a non-shaded twig, this could be cause for concern.
Do the roots of your maple seem weak or lacking new shoots? Do you notice any decaying areas or areas that have damage like an open cut? Maples near const
ruction sites may have to have their roots trimmed to lay concrete or have pipes installed. Trees can have sores just like we can, and any damage to their roots will open them up to disease and infection. And a tree with a poor root system is in trouble. Without a robust root system, it will not be able to stand – literally. A strong thunderstorm could knock it over if it doesn’t have a solid foundation.
June is a good time to inspect for a dead branch or cluster of them. The more numerous the dead twigs or branches are, the more severe the decline.
How To Treat Maple Decline
Because a variety of problems causes maple decline, you’ll need to take a holistic approach.
Have the tree technician test the surrounding soil to ensure your tree is getting all the proper nutrients it needs. The healthier the tree is, the less likely it will succumb to the disease.
Once you know what your tree is craving, have a deep-root feeding performed. This is like a vitamin B shot for your tree. Using a specialized tool that is not unlike the syringe at a doctor’s office, your tree care technician will inject a solution of nutrients directly into your tree’s root system. This will bypass other plants, like the turfgrass, that may compete with the tree for nutrients.
Get The Tree Professionally Pruned
Your first instinct might be to cut away the dead or dying branches, but it takes more finesse than that. You need to know how and where to cut the tree so that you don’t create a wound or tree canker and open the tree up to more problems. Tree and shrub pruning is best to leave it to a professional arborist.
Protect The Tree From Road Salt
If possible, create a barrier between the tree and the road to minimize exposure to harmful de-icing chemicals.
Spray Horticulture Oil
This oil is harmless to the tree but will kill any eggs, larvae, or adult insects on your tree. Whatever stage of their life cycle, the bugs will be halted in their tracks, and you can enjoy a thriving maple tree once more.
Get Tree and Shrub Fertilization
If you suspect your maple trees are suffering from maple decline, don’t hesitate to call us. The experts at Griffin Organics can revitalize your tree through our tree and shrub care program. We’ll employ corrective pruning and deep-root feedings to ensure your tree bounces back. Plus, our products and practices are environmentally friendly.
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