Anyone else having a nightmare of a spring?

Discussion in 'Maples' started by rufretic, May 16, 2014.

  1. rufretic

    rufretic Active Member

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    My collection of maples pretty much got destroyed this year :-(

    It started with a record breaking cold winter, then the deer and rabbits decided to eat most of the buds on the healthy trees and now the worst spring I ever remember having, it snowed today! What few maples survived the winter and feeding are now getting killed by this cold, wet, late spring. I'm so disgusted. I've lost 90% of my $300+ maples and probably 75% of the rest. Thousands of dollars lost. Even the survivors are going to be disfigured after prunning all the dead wood out. I only have a few that seem to have made it through with no damage. All but one of the 10 I had in my garage came out ok so that's about the only possitive.

    At least I know it's not my fault. The nursery I get most of my maples from, looked to have about the same losses as me and a lot of their stuff was protected. The owner told me he has close to a million in losses. I'm guessing he was exagerating but still, it looked pretty bad. He had a lot of new stock in so I still had a lot to choose from but prices seemed higher.

    I've started doing some replacing but I'm not really enjoying it like I did before. I got some beautiful trees and I just don't even care, I just can't get over all the ones I loved that died. I hope this sping doesn't ruin this hobby for me.

    What a sad, sad spring :-(
     
  2. maplesandpaws

    maplesandpaws Active Member

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    I feel your pain Rufretic. Thankfully, I have not experienced the losses that you have this year - surprising, considering it was the first time (of course!) I over-wintered my trees outside - but I have in the past, losing nearly half my trees each spring the past 2-3 year, and it is depressing to say the least. It's been the conifers that have taken the biggest hit for me; both my Black Dragon cryptomeria, my weeping spanish cypress and my little Kinpo white pine have all kicked, with my Kenwith Lebanon cedar barely sneaking through. I have one maple, Squitty, I'm still on the fence about; I've already cut it back significantly, but it looks like I may have to lop off more yet.

    This spring has been odd to say the least here in Kansas; two weeks ago, we were roasting with triple digit temperatures with not even an inch of moisture through all of April, and winds of 25-40mph nearly every day that month. This past week has been low 60s for daytime highs, with overnight lows dipping into the low 40s; this morning's 'feels like' temp at 7:30 was 36!!! At least we finally had some moisture, with a little over an inch in the past week, but we need a lot more, a whole lot more.
     
  3. JT1

    JT1 Contributor

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    Rufretic I get you and would share in the pain, but I am so upset that I don't even want to talk about it. I will say that I will never buy a tree from a mild climate again...Period! No exceptions!
     
  4. marcindy

    marcindy Member

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    Rufretic, I feel your pain. Like you I lost many of the larger JM to the winter weather. So far only one is a total loss, the others are frozen back severely. Which brings up a question, do you prune out the dead and go from there, or do you remove altogether and replace? In the case of Inazuma and Beni Kawa I had to chop back so much that only about 10" of trunk remain with new shoots breaking out all around the stump. My Beni Tsukasa has had more trunk survive, but it too lost all its branches and is reduced to a trunk with buds breaking all around it. So far I opted to just prune back the dead stuff and see what happens, maybe rebuild the trees over the next years. What are your thoughts? How do you guys handle a loss like that? Replace or rebuild from scratch?
     
  5. maf

    maf Generous Contributor Maple Society 10 Years

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    If the roots are still healthy and vigorous you can get a surprising amount of regrowth in a single season. For example, people have been known to purposefully chop down healthy trees in order to only allow one bud/stem to grow and form a standard. Directing all the tree's energy into one stem can easily lead to over six feet of growth in one season.

    Obviously that is an extreme example, but the lesson is that you should only let a select few strategically placed buds grow, and be merciless about rubbing out the rest, in order to direct the regrowth into forming a decent structure. You might be surprised what you can achieve in one year from an unpromising looking stump.
     
  6. Schattenfreude

    Schattenfreude Active Member

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    In instances such as these, is it then OK to fertilize the hell out of a tree? I mean, if the root structure is healthy, then giving it a lot of fertilizer would almost be necessary since there are so few leaves to feed the roots. Or am I completely off-base here in my line of thinking??

    Twelve years ago we had a terrible ice storm and huge limbs from my oak trees came down, taking out several of my maples. One Trompenburg, maybe 8 ft. tall, was pretty much split in half. Luckily, the branches that were wiped out were above the graft union. I decided to leave it alone and let it do its own thing, since I couldn't afford to replace yet another tree. Today, it's a beautiful tree. Just be patient and give your trees a couple years to put out some new growth. Then decide if you really want to pull it out and replace it with another.

    I will admit that I did NOT fertilize the tree much afterwards, since it did have at least one major branch. I was pretty much a newbie at that time and didn't know about message boards like this one.

    Kevin in KC
     
  7. rufretic

    rufretic Active Member

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    I'm sorry to hear about all the losses. Thank you for sharing your pain, it helps me to know I am not alone even though I don't wish this apon anyone. It does make me feel a touch better that it was an act of mother nature that many in the midwest have to deal with rather than my fault.

    Understandable that you don't want to talk about it, I don't even want to think about it but I'm reminded every time I step outside. I can't go outside without desperately looking for signs of life in the ones that have not leafed out yet but look like they could still have a chance. The ones that were for sure goners I had to yank and burn to get out of my sight.

    I think going with locally grown trees will help to not have to go through this again. The only problem with that for me is that, there are no local growers of japanese maples that I know of by me. Probably because of this exact situation and also because they grow so much slower here compared to warmer climates. So if I decided to go that route, I would pretty much be giving up on japanese maples all together. I'm going to try giving some another chance but for the most part, I will stay clear of any cultivars that did not pull through.

    On a good note, some of the survivers that looked to be a lost cause due to all the die back are suprisingly putting out a good amount of new growth and are not looking as bad as originally thought. My first japanese maple, home depot bloodgood of course, has done amazing. No die back and actually increased in size more than any other year and looks the best it's ever looked.

    For anyone in the midwest looking for some options for replacements that may be a little more hardy, the ones that did the best with little to no die back are Burgandy lace, Jordan and Vitifolium. Thats pretty much it for me out of over 100 cultivars. The rest either died completely or suffered large amounts of die back. Some will bounce back but I would not consider them hardy here. These trees are all in ground and fully exposed to the cold.

    If you are in the region that got hit by the record breaking cold and have any cultivars that did extremely well with little to no die back, please share which ones as I'd like to find some replacements that have been proven to do well here.
     
  8. Houzi

    Houzi Active Member 10 Years

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    Schattenfreude,do not throw fertilisers at the tree.Dissolving too much of anything in the water can kill it.It's not so much the chemicals...it can slow,stop and in extreme cases reverse water's natural ability to travel into the roots thus damaging them.This is why fertilising in hot weather is ill advised.
     
  9. marcindy

    marcindy Member

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    Rufretic, thank you for sharing your hardy survivors. I am actually looking at replacing the Beni Kawa with a Jordan. One of my local nursery's had a five foot tall one, but it was really expensive. However, having seen it in person it is one I really want to have. Beni Kawa has been growing well for me, but even in an ordinary winter I have between 2" and sometimes 10" die back on some branches. As a result it has grown uneven, which didn't bother me. But it is the one of the cold victims that froze back the most. I will let it grow for this season, but lift it and it will spend the rest of its life with me in a nice bonsai pot.

    Like you, my Bloodgood shrugged off the cold and is growing like nothing happened. The same is true for Fireglow, which I come to like more and more. Surprisingly to me the shirasawanum 'Autumn Moon', of all the shirasawanums I have looks the most ragged. It's not died back, but the first leaves looked like someone had used them for target practice with arrows. It's also struggling to produce more leaves right now, very sparse looking. Come to think of it, it looks like my flowering cherries, Kwanza and Yoshido, some leaves at the branch tips, but not much else. Just buds that seem to be stuck in developing midway... very strange. On the plus side, Yasmin and Johin both are a joy to look at right now. And of all the surprises this spring, good and bad, my five year old Ukigumo has finally started to produce the leaves I have been waiting for. Variegated, some white, a little pink on some leaves, while other sections are completely green. But no die back at all. Meanwhile, the Shigitatsu Sawa right next to it is trying to raise itself form the ashes, big beautiful leaves on the lower foot of the trunk, not much above that. I'll take it.

    Rufretic, ever since I read about your losses I am looking at mine and think this is nothing. That poor guy lost so much more. And I look at the tentative buds breaking over some of my maples with renewed hope. I wish you patience and the recovery of many of your maples that look dead now. My heart goes out to you.

    Btw, where is Marengo? It seems several Midwest states have one.. :-)
     
  10. maf

    maf Generous Contributor Maple Society 10 Years

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    I'm with Houzi, go easy on the fertilizer. By all means give them a weakish dose now, if you think they need it, then nothing for the rest of the year. These recovery trees are going to put out a lot of soft growth that may be prone to frost damage next winter, the more time it has to harden off the better, you don't want to be encouraging more long soft shoots in the second half of the season.
     
  11. JT1

    JT1 Contributor

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    I have access to hundreds of varieties that have been grown locally for 20+ years at very reasonable prices (2 to 3 hundred, nothing more than 4ish).

    For example, I talked to one guy who brought in 4 large specimens from ATL and he paid 1500 each and they did not survive the winter. He discovered one of my sources and picked up 4 larger trees of much better quality and character for less than 400 each.

    If you want to make the drive, I will introduce you with my sources and since you are a friend of mine, they will give you their best cash pricing. Make a few trips over a few seasons or broker a truck and rebuild your collection in one shot. Anyway, I am not trying to bend the forum rules as I am not selling anything or profiting in any way from my offer. I am just willing to help a fellow friend and collector out after such a harsh winter.
    ******************

    I would recommend varieties, but its difficult as all varieties in my collection from local sources survived with flying colors, where the same varieties brought in from the west coast last season all died. For example, my Emperor I, shishigashira, and Tamukeyama are thriving (both locally grown) where my Dad lost his in the landscape and the nursery that he bought them from, lost hundreds of theirs in hoop houses (all brought in from Oregon two seasons ago) This nursery built their inventory up two seasons ago with the goal to sell some and grow others on, all to loose everything over this past winter. My Dad is making the drive to buy trees from my sources for replacements and is now a believer in locally grown maples.

    I will confidently recommend Acer shirasawanum varieties and any acer palmatum x shirasawanum as these trees came through winter without any problems and look better than ever, after the worst winter on record for the midwest.
    ***************

    I understand the look of desperation and hope that some varieties pull through. I take a walk around the yard daily searching for hope in some varieties.
    ***************
     
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2016
  12. JT1

    JT1 Contributor

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    On the topic of fertilizer. My 2.5 cents worth:

    Fertilizing weak trees can be dangerous for their health especially urea base and quick release fertilizer. Slow release or extended release, organic, and a less is more approach should be considered when using fertilizer in my opinion.

    I have found P and K will help with back budding, cold hardiness, disease resistance, and root growth. I find it helpful for healthy and even stressed trees. I buy into the idea that healthy roots and tree will result in sustainable and healthy canopy growth. For years I have had success with a mild, balanced, organic corn based fertilizer for a healthy weed free landscape followed by an application of 0-10-10 later in the season (but note that 0-10-10 can be used anytime, you don't have to wait.

    Three years ago I was turned on to Florikan controlled release fertilizer. My bonsai and traditional container grown trees have never been healthier. I used it in the landscape for the past two seasons with great results.

    I have to admit, that I was against fertilizer in the past, with the exception of 0-10-10 and my organic corn based fertilizer for weed control.

    But a wise man told me something that made me reconsider...(Mr Shep) He said, we tend to over fertilize our trees when they are young and under fertilize them as they get older. Note, he did not make a product recommendation.

    Since much of my collection is made up of older specimens, I figured maybe I need to re-think my approach. For me, I found Florikan does a great job keeping my old specimens and younger trees, evergreens, and even bonsai healthy and full. I use much less than the recommended application rate. I like how I get healthy sustainable growth that is full all along each branch and not the long, leggy, growth at the tips (that is disease ridden growth or even burning) like when using quick release fertilizer or cheap slow release that releases slow at first, then breaks down quickly and spikes in release.

    (The full growth along the whole branch is best for me in my garden that is pushed for space, so I can trim branches back to healthy inner growth giving them a healthy full appearance while still maintaining the character of the tree. When growth is only at branch tips, it makes keeping the specimens a desired size a real challenge, because there is no growth along the rest of the branch, its only at the tip. So when the branch is cut back some, it creates a hole in the outer canopy hurting the overall appearance and character of the tree. I believe this is the difference between a high quality fertilizer and a cheap low quality fertilizer.

    What kind of growth do you want?

    If the answer is long leggy growth at the tips, go with a quick release fertilizer that is high in nitrogen with more frequent applications and frequent watering. If they don't have disease or heavy winter die back, then you may get considerable length out of the tree. If you want a fuller tree with healthy branching, go with a high quality extended release fertilizer followed by 0-10-10 later in the season in my opinion)

    I believe the coating on their more expensive line (fertilizer is grey color and last longer) came out of the NASA space program and it also offers a true extended release along with some good organic and microbial components.

    I got my Florikan from a local grower who buys in bulk, who gave me enough to last a few seasons, but when I have to get more I found it online on ebay and A.M. Leonard.

    I have seen disastrous results with use and over use of liquid fertilizer or when people go the cheap route and use their left over lawn fertilizer in their landscape beds.

    Anyway, as a general disclaimer I do not like to recommend specific products as every climate, soil, and garden is different. If you are interested in trying Florikan or learning more about it, I encourage you to check out their company website and product line, so you can pick a product that may fit your needs.

    That's my long winded 2.5 cents worth anyway...
     
  13. rufretic

    rufretic Active Member

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    It's northwest of Chicago.

    I've spotted a few more that look to be doing pretty good. Both my Ukigumos are doing good, one with no die back and one lost one good size branch but was full enough it wont be noticable. They are also showing beautiful verigation, every leaf. My Moon rise has no die back and has great color right now. Autumn moon looks like it might be fine as well but too early to tell.

    Most of my smaller trees, in the 5-10 gallon range are alive, just need a lot of pruning. It's the larger ones that almost all died. I would of guessed they would be stronger but I bet they where grown in a much milder climate and just couldn't handle the cold, like what JT mentioned.

    I planted (30) 2 year grafts in the spring last year and a lot of them are actually doing great, even doubling in size. A few died but I think the ones that are doing so good after this winter have a lot of potential to do well for me. I'll get a list together of them when I get a chance. I know Johin is one that is doing great, you mentioning yours is what made me think of the grafts.

    You are a lucky man my friend :-)

    I've never paid more than $350 other than my newest addition, Aureum that was $490. But I'm pretty sure none of the trees I've bought have been any where near 20 years old. I would love to come visit and pick up a few nice size trees but I'm pretty sure your about 8 hours from me. Although I guess it would be better than making the 3.5 hr trip I made 3 times to get thousands of dollars of trees and then have them all die like I did the last couple years lol. I shouldn't be loling cause it's true :-(
     

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