Winter, winter go away...

Discussion in 'Maples' started by maplesandpaws, Apr 10, 2013.

  1. maplesandpaws

    maplesandpaws Active Member

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    Location:
    KS -> northern AL, USA
    Please! I'm tired of you showing up again and again after all the teasers for warmer weather!

    With the system rolling through the country right now, we have received a nice dose of freezing rain - not as bad as some have had it, but still enough to encase everything in ice 1/8-1/4" thick. I only have a couple of my maples actually planted, the rest are in pots and were either moved under the deck or back into the garage (I think this is the fourth or fifth time I've had to do this so far this year, in and out, in and out... getting real old).

    I protected the trees as best I could with a plant stand and wooden benches, but of course they still are nicely encased. Green Cascade has nicely swollen buds, but no actual leafing out yet. Filigree, though, has many soft new leaves. There is no apparent damage to the branches, but I am, of course, worried about the leaves and buds. Is there anything I can/should do, or that I need to watch for (such as damage that isn't readily visible, increased susceptibility to fungus, etc)?
     

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  2. JT1

    JT1 Contributor

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    Wow! I have never seen spring leaves coated in freezing rain. I am sorry to see that happen to your beautiful new tree. I wish I could tell you everything will be ok, but I never had that happen before. Maybe the clear ice will protect the foliage, like citrus growers use clear ice to protect their trees from below freezing temps and frost.

    Usually frost is more of a concern in introducing bacteria into the tree. Frost is very coarse and it makes small cuts into the bark, allowing an entry point for bacteria. Freezing rain or clear ice is very smooth, so it should not do any damage to the mature bark. I am interested to see how the tender new growth stands up to the ice. Time will tell. If the leaves get really saggy like salad that's been sitting in dressing too long, then it's game over and time to cut the soft growth back to last year’s wood. Dead leaves can be removed.

    Worse case, secondary buds will form and it will leaf out again in about a month or two at the most.

    Stupid sparrows eat the buds on some of my Japanese maples, that's how I know secondary buds will form and it will leaf out. Last year they attacked my willow leaf. Only a few leaves emerged, because they missed a couple buds. The tree looked pathetic next to everything else leafed out in all its glory. About 1-1.5 months later, you would never know it happened. A couple of very fine, weak twigs died back as a result of the sparrow attack, but other than that, everything was fine.
     
  3. maplesandpaws

    maplesandpaws Active Member

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    I am hopeful, too, that the ice will actually protect the leaves rather than damage them - I guess we'll find out. I haven't ventured out to look at them, but I am sure my dwarf lilacs and silver weeping pear have a good bit of ice on them too, especially since they are along the front of the house. Their foliage, though, is much tougher and thicker, even when young and fresh, than most maples, so I'm not terribly worried about them.

    At least its not a huge, thick coat of ice; I would have been so heartbroken if any of the limbs had cracked or broken (though, I will be inspecting it VERY carefully tomorrow once it thaws out, believe me). When I had set up my barrier, I was hoping to protect the tree from hail damage, since originally we had warnings for severe weather/thunderstorms. Until I looked out the window this morning, it hadn't occurred to me to also try to cover the tree with a blanket or sheet to protect from freezing rain. The wheels are already turning, trying to come up with a simple but effective cage or cover I can quickly put over the tree (actually, hopefully my whole courtyard since I want to plant 2-3 more maples here) to help protect when severe weather rolls in but that stores easily when not in use.

    I guess keeping my fingers crossed that it comes out ok is the only thing I can do right now. I had thought of trying to break off or somehow melt the ice, but that would probably damage the tree further, especially since we will be below freezing again tonight. And tomorrow the roller coaster continues: mid-50s for highs, 60s on Friday and I think 70s again on Saturday. Mother Nature sure has a perverted sense of humor sometimes...
     
  4. prairiestyle

    prairiestyle Active Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    I have used empty trash cans with success before (if the trees are small enough). They work for protecting from construction too - last year in the early spring (before leaf-out) we had a deck redone and I used a bunch of empty trash cans to cover a few small nearby trees. Nevertheless, the workmen still managed to scrape up and un-elegantly prune my 'Amber Ghost,' which I had incorrectly assumed was far enough away to be safe...
     

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