Dieback: Coincidence or what?

Discussion in 'Maples' started by xman, Dec 1, 2006.

  1. xman

    xman Active Member

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    Location:
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    Hi,

    I bought a 5 gallon red dragon last year, that I repotted early this year. It leafed out nicely and put out about 4 to 6 inches of new growth in its branches. It had beautiful branching that I loved. The tree was healthy but due to the extreme TX heat this year, the leaves turned brown and crispy (90% dry) by July/August.

    Based on the fact that a couple of my smaller maples in 2 gallon containers turned crispy, dropped the leaves and got new set of leaves, and reading in one of the forums that you can remove the crispy leaves and it will put out a new set of leaves, I carefully removed all the leaves(did not harm any buds) at the end of august. Before I pulled out all the leaves there was zero dieback in any of the branches, all the branches were supple and healthy.

    Within a week or two (very quick), all the branches started to dieback, starting with the thinest. The dieback was very quick, within a few weeks, all the new growth + last years growth was lost, all that remained was the main stem. While this was happening the temps dropped a bit and we got some rain, and all the maples started to put out new growth. The red dragon started back budding like crazy all over the main stem all the way down to the graft. It leafed out thick and twiggy with many small minor branches all over the top, but I lost the nice branching structure that I bought this maple for, it now looks like a pompom topiary. It still has all its new leaves(still the dark red,no fall color yet) even though all the others have had fall colors and dropped their leaves (I have not seen it for the last two day, yesterday and today we had a hard freeze).

    I know that I screwed this one up, but where did I go wrong?

    1) Pulling out all the dried leaves in august?
    2) Pulling out the dried leaves all?
    3) Is red dragon prone to dieback more that the others?
    4) Getting hooked on maples? :)

    Hopefully there is a lesson that can be learnt.

    thanks,
    xman
     
  2. whis4ey

    whis4ey Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    Maybe living in Dallas is your greatest problem? It sounds as though your hot temperatures were too much for the poor thing
    Getting hooked on Japanese maples is, however, a forgiveable sin ....
    Japanese maples (apart from their dislike, in the main, of hot sun, need constant moisture. If your tree was allowed to dry out too much it would have stressed it considerably, and, coupled with the hot sun, has probably caused your problem
    I wouldn't have thought that removing the dried leaves had anything to do with it though I am open to correction
    Can you not keep it in shade during the hottest weather?
     
  3. whis4ey

    whis4ey Well-Known Member 10 Years

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  4. xman

    xman Active Member

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    All the maples move to the north side of the house in summer where they get a couple of hours of sun. While the TX weather is too hot, and this year was brutal, spring is pretty decent. Heat may not be the issue here because I have 18 other varieties in the same location and none of them have dieback. The red dragon was doing great till I pull all the leaves off.
    Strangely, Aureum S. golden fullmoon did the best for me in TX, minimum leaf burn and a decent fall color followed by Orange dream. Others that are supposed to take more hot weather did not do so good.

    xman
     
  5. Gomero

    Gomero Well-Known Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    xman,
    You did nothing wrong, pulling the dried leaves did not cause the dieback.. As whys4ey points out the poor thing got too much stress, from one or several causes combined, maybe including pathogens. You are lucky it did not pass away. You may wait for it to grow back a satisfying branching scheme (which may be quick if the root sytem is healthy) or give it away to someone with more patience ;o))

    Gomero
     
  6. Galt

    Galt Active Member

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    Dieback of that degree, under that situation likely indicates a stress to the plant that triggered and internal disease. If there was no visible topical damage to the wood from the heat (scald, sunburn, etc.) and all you had was dried leaves that you carefully removed, it is unlikely that your situation is a direct result of heat. Sure, growing your maple under more "ideal" condtions would be great, but that maple can survive in your heat, but as you have found out, if it is not incredibly "clean" you will have your challenges. You just cannot let your maple(s) stress like that, and the more times you stress them the more likely you will see what the plant is all about, what is inside of it waiting to strike you challenge it. Others will have the luxury of a more hands-off approach when they are growing in more ideal climates, but you have to be much more careful. Given that you had recently pruchased the maple, it was propably more prone to being stressed while transitioning growing situations. The first few years are very critaical for those of us that grow maples in hot climates as we have to be careful not to strees them as we acclimate them to "our ways" and out situations.

    Don't feel bad, but make sure you take it as a lesson to be more careful.

    Cheers!
     
  7. Idacer

    Idacer Active Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    I'm really quite naive about horticulture in other parts of the country/world. But, is there some reason (e.g., economical or legal) why you can't irrigate some of your more prized and sensitive trees in periods of extended drought? If it weren't for the water meter, nothing would survive our summers here except cheatgrass and sagebrush.

    Just curious.
     
  8. xman

    xman Active Member

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    All my trees are in containers in a soil less mix with good drainage. I monitor the soil moisture on a daily basis, so I think lack of moisture is not the issue. Like Galt mentioned, it was probably diseased and it was its first summer in TX (the tree was from OR) and a brutal summer at that, caused it to succumb to the stress. Like I mentioned the tree did back bud quite a bit, hopefully it will pull thru the winter.
    I'll see what happens next year.

    thanks,
    xman
     
  9. Galt

    Galt Active Member

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    Back-budding and growth low on the trunk in response to stress and dieback is a common response for trees harboring verticillium. Sometimes it is not necessarily the heat the cuases the response you saw in your maple, the temperature adjustment that happened afterwards that triggers the flare-up per se. You are lucky to still have the trunk as a good majority of trees that go into this type of decline do not recover. The decline of my formerly beautiful japonicum picutured below started in the summer of 205 after a very hot spell.

    The first photo is after it died back to the trunk. The second and thrid is some regrowth I was able to force. The forth is the top 1/3 + of the plant the I was forced to remove this past summer, a year later. If you look close as the first photo you can see about where I was forced to cut by comparing to the forth photo. As it remains, the regrow is still stable with no further dieback. And while I am fairly certain the wood is harbing at least one, but probably a couple of diseases, I was able to take some of the newest, and hopefully cleanest growth, and make two successful grafts this past summer. I hope that vigorous wood from those will help to make a cleaner plant in the next round of propagation and so on and so forth.
     

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  10. Gomero

    Gomero Well-Known Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    Galt,
    Looking at your fourth photo, at the green part of the wood, one may see indications of Nectria cinnabarina cankers.
    Of course I am not saying that Nectria is the only cause of the dieback.

    Gomero
     
  11. Galt

    Galt Active Member

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    Possibly, but I would not liken those lesions or visble abnormalities to be Nectria. I had not and was not familiar with the Coral Spot Fungus until a few minutes ago and have not seen it on any plants as it is picutured in various web sources. I have a plant pathology book I will look through later.

    I read that it is commonly found on dead or dying wood as a secondary pathogen, so it might be possible there is some on the dead wood as I did let it sit atop the tree awhile.

    Interesting fungus--thanks for bringing it up. Of course, if it is there, it is not the primary cause of the dieback and may not be involved at all.

    Cheers!
     
  12. xman

    xman Active Member

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    Hi,

    Five years later..this tree is almost down to the central leader. Every year, it seems to be losing a branch or two, but some years it appeared to have stabilized. Now finally down to its last branch. The decline is top down..the central leader looks healthy for the first 24". Should I trim it down to the healthy part or leave it alone?

    thanks,
    xman
     

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