Split in bark of Japenese Maple

Discussion in 'Maples' started by EPP1950, Mar 19, 2016.

  1. EPP1950

    EPP1950 Active Member

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    Location:
    Camas Washington,USA zone 6b
    I moved this tree in 2010; and watered it weekly until last summer with a soaker hose. Last summer, I assumed it was established, and started to give it just a light watering about every other day. Our summer here, was very hot and dry, and in August some of the leaves started to look distressed and sun scorched .

    When I crawled under its branches to reinstall the soaker hose I noticed the split in the bark for the first time. I'm sure this split wasn't there before the year's foliage covered the tree.

    I returned to giving the tree a good watering, with the soaker hose once a week until the fall rains returned in October.
    maple2.png maple1.png
    The tree dropped a good third of its leaves early ( they dried up and fell off) and the remainder changed color (color was more muted than normal) and fell off in the fall as they normally do. During the winter I noticed a fair amount of die off, of the smaller branches on the tree, more of them seem to located on the same side of the tree as the split (south side).

    I've removed the dead branches this week, and the tree is starting to bud.

    My questions are:
    1-Was the split in the trunk caused by stress from a lack of water or could there be another cause?
    2- To treat the split; should I trim as much of the dead bark away as I can and let callus tissue grow?
    3- Are there any other remedies I should be doing?

    Edited to correct pictures!
     
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2016
  2. emery

    emery Rising Contributor Maple Society 10 Years

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    It is possible for changes in watering regime to cause a vertical split. In a post-mortem it's impossible to tell if it was that or some other cause.

    However it looks like it's healing well, so that's good news.

    No action required. You could spray it with a copper-based solution if you feel the need to do something, just in case there was a bacterial infection and a little remains. I would only bother if I were out doing a general spraying.
     
  3. EPP1950

    EPP1950 Active Member

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    Thank you for your reply; I'll be watching the tree closely this year.
    It leafed out fairly normally; although the foliage might be a tad less than the past.
    But given the amount of die back of small branches I had, its not unexpected.
    I'd post a current picture; if there was any interest in seeing it.
     
  4. AlainK

    AlainK Well-Known Member Forums Moderator Maple Society 10 Years

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    Like Emery, I think it doesn't need anything else but spraying some copper sulfate to prevent infections entering through the wound.
     
  5. JT1

    JT1 Rising Contributor

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    This can be caused by a variety of reasons.

    Having past conversations with my friend Elpedio who has 30+ years experience grafting Japanese maples in the trade; we have discussed that red Acer palmatum atropurpurem rootstock (silver bark) is more prone to splitting. Where green Acer palmatum rootstock is less prone to splitting.

    I know it will not help your tree, but it is something to consider for those who graft and live in areas prone to very wet winters and areas where winters have temps that drop steeply overnight.
     
  6. EPP1950

    EPP1950 Active Member

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    Thanks to both AlainK and JT1 for your replies.

    Although our overnight temps. are fairly mild here; we certainly are prone to wet winters.
    I didn't follow the winter before the splits appeared; but this past winter we had over 48"
    of rain from Mid-October to Mid-March.
     
  7. JT1

    JT1 Rising Contributor

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    One last note as a preventative measure, when planting a new tree (container or balled and burlap) remove the surface soil from the ball or container down to the root flair. Make sure when planting, that the root flair and new surface level of the root mass is 3" above the ground level in areas with good drainage, filling with soil and providing a nice gradual slope down to the native soil line. Areas with heavy clay soil, the root ball should be above the native soil and the bed should be mounded up with free draining soil. Soils of light to moderate clay that drains slowly, the bottom 1/4 of the rootball can be planted below the native soil line (1/2 for light clay) and mounded up to the surface of the rootball with a free draining soil mix.
    Areas prone to very wet winters and free draining soils should follow steps above for light clay.

    What I am getting at is that not exposing the root flair and or planting a tree too deeply can contribute to craks in the trunk.

    As mentiond before, all are preventative measures, one can do everything right and still end up with a cracked trunk if conditions are right.
     
    Last edited: May 1, 2016
  8. EPP1950

    EPP1950 Active Member

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    Location:
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    Looking at pictures I took at the time; I'd say that I planted this tree appoxitamately flush with the surrounding soil.
    That said the ground on three sides does slope gently away, and when we dug the tree we scrapped away the loose soil, to the root flair.

    I was worried about our clay soil and excessive winter rains and actually dug a trench about twenty-five feet long into the yard, and installed a perforated drain pipe covered with several inches of 3/4" minus gravel. It terminated with a small French drain which was about two feet lower than the bottom of the root ball to insure drainage.

    Also at the time someone said the root ball was taller than it needed to be as it was about 30 inches tall.
     

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