Disastrous year

Discussion in 'Maples' started by Gomero, Aug 31, 2010.

  1. Gomero

    Gomero Well-Known Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    This season started pretty encouraging with an excellent month of April, sunny and dry, which made the maples to have a healthy growth free from pseudomonas and associated die-back, everything looked very encouraging.

    Unfortunately things have turned very nasty during the summer with almost all the conditions listed in the Oregon State maple disease list affecting many of the maples in my garden. New this year is a heavy infestation of Metcalfa pruinosa which affects just about every plant (and weed) in the garden.

    Worst of all has been verticillium albo-atrum. Up to now the cases of verticillium had been anecdotal with most occurrences happening within the year of purchase. This time many trees of all ages and all around the garden have been either killed or heavily disfigured. Among the most disappointing losses I could mention: 10 years old A. davidii 'Rosalie', 7 years old A. tegmentosum, 7 years old A. diabolicum, 10 years old A. japonicum 'Vitifolium',......They all have been in the ground, in the same place, for many years. My garden being in pristine forest land I had assumed it to be mostly free from the fungus, but now I see I was wrong.

    Gomero
     
  2. Silver surfer

    Silver surfer Generous Contributor 10 Years

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    That is such sad news Gomero.

    You must be devastated to lose so many beautiful Acers. All you hard work....

    We have also suffered losses this year of several mature trees and shrubs due to Honey fungus. It is very disheartening.
     
  3. katsura

    katsura Active Member 10 Years

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    Gomero,
    I am so sorry to hear of the death of some of your precious large trees.
    Maple cultivation like you do is not for the indulgent and weak.
    Nature kills for reasons our grief cannot fathom.
    Time and focus on the beauty you still have so abundantly in your yard will help.
    You are such an incredibly generous man that it particularly hurts me to see someone
    giving like you hurt. All of us on this forum who know you as a friend grieve with you.
    Mike
     
  4. jacquot

    jacquot Active Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    So sorry to hear this. It is very difficult to loose trees, especially these beautiful maples that are so cared for and appreciated. I hope your fortunes change, no more losses!
    David
     
  5. emery

    emery Renowned Contributor Maple Society 10 Years

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    Gomero, not much that can be said. So sorry. I've written this year off, but your calamities dwarf ours here. Most of my losses have been young by comparison...

    Is there any common thread you can draw -- source, exposition, water flow -- between the trees?

    I've read about the Metcalfa infestations, but had no idea it was so serious. Is the nuclear option on the table, or are they throughout the neighborhood?
     
  6. maf

    maf Generous Contributor Maple Society 10 Years

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    Sad news indeed, so sorry to hear it. I wish I could do something to help.

    Here's hoping this is the end of it, and next year will bring you better growing conditions.
     
  7. Gomero

    Gomero Well-Known Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    Thank you everybody for the nice, empathetic comments, it helps ;-))

    I really have no sure explanation, the only common threads I can think of are:

    - Drier than normal July & August. But this is common here and the entire garden is under automatic watering.
    - The heavy infestation of Metcalfa pruinosa. This is really new this year.

    It maybe that the two combined have weakened the trees making them more suceptible to all other pathogens. For the Metcalfa, I have contacted the French equivalent to the local agricultural extension in order to try to secure some parasitic wasps for next year.

    Gomero
     
  8. bigjohn33

    bigjohn33 Active Member

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    hi
    i live near gomero but more in the west of france
    This summer wasn't particulary hot but it was really dry
    i have a small river in my garden and it gives a good humidity to most of my maples
    but the others have suffered even if they get water. I also got more dieback than usual
    i think that air humidity is an important matter for acers
     
  9. mr.shep

    mr.shep Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    This is not a pleasant task to come in after
    the fact and try to sort out what we may have
    been able to do to help a particular situation
    or a combination of factors that may have
    led to a terrible year. We went through
    a similar year three years ago with several
    container grown Maples, all between the
    ages of 8-15 years. For us the battle was
    that no matter how much water was being
    applied we still saw evidence of Tight Bark
    stunting terminal tips and then saw just
    how bad Verticillium alboatrum could rear
    its ugly head. Even with the pruning out
    of the affected and dying growth, we did
    not get much new replacement growth from
    just under the pruning cuts. Took more
    pruning and then by late Summer we saw
    some flushes of new growth but the damage
    had already been done. When a 7-12 foot
    tall Maple soon becomes a 3-4 footer just
    to try to save it, I think in terms of years
    lost but sometimes these plants will snap
    out of their doldrums and others seem to
    benefit from these misgivings.

    One thing that has been consistent with
    our container plants across the board
    is that with soil compaction, less aeration
    in the roots, we see more trouble develop
    and at a much faster rate than in more
    recently potted up plants.

    What has me a little perplexed is that
    Maples in a forest type soil are getting
    hit by Powdery Mildew. This is not
    a good sign to me at all. In moist
    Spring conditions, we expect to see
    some mildew with some of our more
    tender variegated forms but when
    green and red palmates also are
    affected, this is cause for concern.
    Yes, it has been suggested more
    than once that dry roots can lead
    to the Summer forms of Powdery
    Mildew but that is not the case with
    the more destructive Spring forms.
    I wonder how much oxygen is in
    the root zone as much of the time
    for container Maples giving them
    new soil seems to help them a
    great deal with the Spring forms
    of Powdery Mildew. I wonder if
    the forest soils might need more
    aeration, regardless of how little
    or how much water is being applied.

    The problem with the Maples that
    Gomero has had some trouble with
    is that each one of them has been
    known for a long time to be loaded
    with Verticillium alboatrum in their
    plant systems. It is a hard fact
    of life that when these plants stress
    we may see the fungus kill off limbs
    and large branches and feel that
    there was nothing we could do to
    stop it. One of the issues we have
    in a warm and dry climate that others
    in cooler and more moist conditions
    do not see nearly as readily and
    certainly not as rampant as we can
    get hurt by the fungus. Another
    observation I've had in the last
    few years around here is that
    several Maples have had much
    more Spider Mite activity that
    I can recall since the 70's drought
    years. Another case for some
    overhead watering in areas that
    are pretty much devoid of marine
    air during the Summer months.

    Gomero if there is anything I can
    do to help, do not hesitate to let
    me know. I really do feel for you
    and I also know there isn't a lot
    I can say that may make the
    situation better for you. Just
    remember that in some of the
    Maples we want to grow, even
    when we do pretty much everything
    right we can still see problems in
    these plants from the past crop
    up and really bite us. I wish it
    didn't happen but it does and
    when it does, very little can
    make us feel good about our
    attempts to grow these plants.

    All the best,

    Jim
     
  10. Kaitain4

    Kaitain4 Well-Known Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    Gomero,

    I, too, am sorry for your losses. I lost a few this year but nothing like you saw. In fact, this year I have seen almost explosive growth on a number of cultivars. We have had ample rain.

    But this will not be the case forever. We have had horrific droughts here in the past and will see them again. A reminder that none of us are far removed from the grasp of Mother Nature. My philosophy therefore is to enjoy it while you have it, and when its gone - find something better to try. Hope you can make lemonade of your lemons!!
     
  11. paxi

    paxi Active Member

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    Kaitan, it sounds like you didn't do too bad with all those floods that I heard about in Tenn. Thanks for posting this Gomero - Just knowing that this can happen (to the best of them) helps prepare for that inevitable bad year...
     
  12. winterhaven

    winterhaven Active Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    Gomero,

    I'm simply shocked and dismayed. You have my heartfelt sympathy.

    I must confess, I'm now really nervous about my own trees. I mean, if someone with your depth of knowledge who obviously bestows meticulous care on their trees can be dealt these types of losses... what chance do my trees have? But I know from "talking" with you on the forum that if anyone can bring a situation like yours back under control that you can. Cold comfort, I know, in the face of dead trees. But I expect you're even now fretting about the ones you still have.

    And as much as I wish this hadn't happened to you, please accept my gratitude for your sharing. I think all of us hope that by sharing our experiences we can help each other figure out the best way to care for these beauties so that others don't face the sadness you are currently facing, or at least, face it less often. That is, assuming that fine tuning the care we give can increase our trees' odds of success.

    In the vein of trying to find a silver lining, I found three previous points in this thread to be of interest: the ubiquitousness of verticillium, and the importance of humidity and aeration of the roots. I, too, suspect that the horse is out of the barn with verticillium and that it's simply everywhere. And for that reason we, all of us, need to beware of "stressors" for our trees. Further, I suspect that controlling those latter two things may be of more importance than any of us have previously suspected.

    Gomero, I wish good fortune toward you and your trees.
     
  13. alex66

    alex66 Rising Contributor Maple Society 10 Years

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    Gomero friend, i'm really afraid for your dead maples :-( especially for diabolicum !
     
  14. Gomero

    Gomero Well-Known Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    I wholeheartedly thank everybody for the nice words of encouragement. As Winterhaven and others correctly say, we must be aware that, no matter what we do, we can always be hit by disaster, this is ‘life’ for maple enthusiasts. Good practices will minimize the risk but will not make it to disappear.
    With experience one can easily spot those maples that will not ‘make it’ for sure and a good practice would call for trashing and replacing them (as MJH suggested in a parallel thread). However this is not enough since most of my losses to Verticillium were of previously healthy and vigorous growers.

    Gomero
     
  15. emery

    emery Renowned Contributor Maple Society 10 Years

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    Gomero, were any of them grown from seed? You mention diabolicum and tegmentosum.

    So, growing maples requires either a masochist or a Zen Master, eh? :)

    -E
     
  16. Gomero

    Gomero Well-Known Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    Emery,

    They were both grown from seed.

    I agree ;-)) (I may add that it also requires a thick checkbook to keep replacing the dead ones)

    Gomero
     
  17. cafernan

    cafernan Active Member

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    Dear Friend

    So sorry to hear this. Disaster like you have described, seems to be due environmental conditions and thus, it is no much what you could do to prevent it.

    Regards, Carlos
     
  18. Gomero

    Gomero Well-Known Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    Thanks Carlos.

    I have done some thinking and have come up with some hypothetical leads as to how the Verticillium fungus could be introduced into a garden other than in the potting soil or soil ball of the purchased maple.

    One possibility could be the mulch. I buy huge amounts of composted shredded wood (all types of wood) which I spread as mulch once a year. The question is: does the fungus survives OK the composting process?

    Another possibility is the home compost. I have a hot composting bin where I place all my organic kitchen waste (less meat) and then use (sparingly) the resulting compost in the mix when planting everything in the garden. In the kitchen waste there are a lot of waste coming from solanaceaes, like potatoes and tomatoes. However I am not sure as to the presence of the fungus in the fruits (tomato) or in the skin of tubercles (potatoes).

    All comments on this are welcomed since understanding and sorting out these issues is important for all of us.

    Gomero
     
  19. whis4ey

    whis4ey Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    To my mind composted bark would be well worth thorough investigation
    Some of the bark I buy over here looks to me to be much less well composted than others
    I have been suspicious of potential problems for some time, as I too buy quite alot (usually on an annual basis)
     
  20. maf

    maf Generous Contributor Maple Society 10 Years

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    I should think bark/wood products derived from conifers would be Verticillium free as all gymnosperms are immune to verticillium wilt. Over here most of the bark type products are byproducts of the forestry industry which almost guarantees they are from conifers, fortunately.

    (Gomero, the following is mostly just conjecture, I am certainly not an expert on maple diseases, but you asked for all comments and, as you say, a discussion of all opinions and ideas is beneficial for all of us.) I understand that Verticillium albo-atrum can persist in the soil for over 15 years in a resting form, just waiting for the right conditions to attack a host, and, as Jim mentioned earlier in the thread, the plants can be already contaminated with it in their system, presumably also in a resting form, just waiting for the right conditions to attack. My guess is that the weather, or other unknown event, caused stress on these maples and that allowed the Verticillium to gain the upper hand in a perennial battle between the fungi and the trees.

    My philosophy is to assume that Verticillium is present to some degree in any soil, and maybe already in some of our trees, and is just one of those opportunist organisms waiting for its chance to thrive, which in this case would be a stressed or unhealthy maple. I think you hit the nail on the head previously when you said
    Just my 2 centimes, but hope it gives you something to think about.
     
  21. cafernan

    cafernan Active Member

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    Could be helpful to apply micorrhyzae, since they colonize roots and thus, make a "barrier" against pathogens?
     
  22. alex66

    alex66 Rising Contributor Maple Society 10 Years

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    today i observation one new variable,the maples with many flowers this spring are in strees condiition ,leaves off over 50%,metacalfa is present in platanoides Crimson sentry ,acer macrophillum and like every year in acer circinatum,the grown branch is many interesting,in my usda zone maples grown around 20cm /ears,genus palmatum around 10 cm/year ...this year 40-5o cm and 30-35 cm genus palmatum O.O!is possible that unusual many rain ,stimulate this problem?..of course many rain for usda zone 9b ;)
     
  23. Gomero

    Gomero Well-Known Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    This year I have had an even worse season with a lot of maples affected by Verticillium with several precious ones dead by now. I have lost 12 and have about 20 affected but not dead. I'll show some instructive examples.
    The most regrettable loss is my only A. mandshuricum (first pic) which was a beautiful and healthy 10 year old, grown from seed. It was probably hit by the acute form that affects trees in the Spring since by mid-July it was completely gone (pic is from end July).
    The next pic (also end July) shows a 'Tiger Rose' where the disease seems to have been circumscribed to half of the tree. It may be saved (for now).
    The third pic (from end July) shows a 'Moonfire'. It is all dead now.

    Snakebarks (section Macranthe) are a case apart. None of my snakebarks seem to be able to pass the, roughly, 10 years mark. They all succumb to verticillium, no matter whether they are grafted or grown from seed. After those of last year, I have lost my gorgeous A. conspicuum 'Phoenix' which was about 9 years old and 3-4 meters high. I am attaching several pics of the bark since, with snakebarks, it is astonishing how you can track the disease progression. The parts of the bark with yellow stripes are still unaffected while the parts with the darker stripes have been infected. The tree is now gone with most of the buds dead as shown.
    Someone was asking recently in this forum why we do not see more mature snakebarks in gardens........., any hints?

    Gomero
     

    Attached Files:

  24. katsura

    katsura Active Member 10 Years

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    Gomero,
    I wish I could do more for you, my friend, than just tell you how sorry I am to hear of your loss.
    I know how wounded I feel when I lose trees so I can empathize with your pain.
    It is hard indeed to lose old friends.
    Mike
     
  25. emery

    emery Renowned Contributor Maple Society 10 Years

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    Wow, that's hard. I'm so sorry to hear this bad news.

    I wonder if the V. albo-atrum can be transmitted in seed, awaiting some trigger to multiply. My pensylvanicum, also seed grown and about 8 years old, is exhibiting the tell-tale black this summer.

    best,

    -Emery
     

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