I came across a very short and sweet article: Budburst by William (Ned) Friedman, Director of the Arnold Arboretum April 23, 2016 Budburst! » Arnold Arboretum Not only does the article give us some clarity to discussions on what is bud break by showing pictures of Acer palmatum during budburst while providing a definition. But the article also talks about the storage of energy 7 to 8 months before budburst in mid to late Summer during the previous season. The timing of mid to late Summer is a bit subjective and is different depending on the region of the world you live and micro climate influence. The information ("eruption of leaves and flowers that have been tightly packed into each and every bud for the last seven or eight months") gives us each a solid timeline that we can work back from the time of year our budburst. For my area my Japanese maples budburst between mid April to May 1st. Not sure, just go back through your photos and check out the date as I just did as I write this thread. So if we work back 7 or 8 months from that date we come up with a time in which next year's buds are being formed. For me this is about August to September 1st. Given it takes a couple of weeks for buds to form, I would say late July would begin that critical time for next year's budburst. Why am I making such a big deal about mid to late Summer when I am sharing an article about budburst? Good question! How we care for our maples in August has a direct impact on their health and vigor come next Spring. I know for me August is hot, dry, and almost always in the middle of seasonal drought. It's a time where people have gardening fatigue and begin to neglect their gardens and watering. My food for thought is we must keep up with caring for our maples in late Summer as it is a critical time for next year's leaf development and vigor. Also in the short term, I have found keeping up with your maples through August and into September is the difference between having a short fall show with damaged leaves and having a brilliant fall showing with picture perfect leaves! Putting forth an effort into the late Summer care of Japanese maples pays dividends come next season and ensures a great fall show that is longer lasting in my experience! Next season when you start to get gardening fatigue come late Summer, remember this article, dig deep and get re-motivated, and remember that next seasons Spring show and the health of your maples depends on action and efforts! Next time you have a maple with poor performance or decline during early Spring; remember to look back to the previous Summer. Then you can identify and reach conclusions on why your tree has declined based on history. Learn from it to prevent further loss and develop a better mid to late Summer care program. I use a slow release organic starter fertilizer in mid July for container grown and landscape maples. I water container grown maples every morning and ensure that landscape grown maples get 1" of water a week. Also late June to early July is a good time to add mulch to areas that have settled or disrupted by wildlife to help keep roots moist and cool before the hottest and driest part of Summer sets in.