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Maple Tree Problems

Maple Tree Problems

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Larry Sagers Horticultural Specialist Utah State University Extension Service Thanksgiving Point Office © All Rights Reserved

Maple Tree Problems

Maples comprise 20-50 percent of trees in many neighborhoods throughout the county. They are beautiful trees and have been widely planted for many years, but are subject to several problems.

The most common maple problem is leaf scorch. Leaf scorch is a physiological disease caused by hot temperatures and inadequate water. It occurs on maple and any other broadleaf tree. As a general rule, the larger the plant leaf, the more likely the leaf is to scorch.

As temperatures rise, leaf scorch increases. It is particularly severe with hot, dry, south winds. The margins of the leaves and the tissues between the veins turn brown.

Lack of water increases scorch problems but in many cases, the soil is moist and the tree simply cannot move the water from the soil top the top of the tree fast enough to prevent the leaves from scorching.

Trees stressed for other reasons including trunk damage or borers show more serious problems. Maintain tree vigor by controlling pests. Water the trees deeply and frequently. Turf watering is often inadequate for large shade trees.

Maples are also effected by verticillium wilt. The organism invades through the roots and spreads upward through the sap wood and effects all or part of the crown of the tree. The damage from verticillium wilt is most conspicuous mid to late summer.

Leaves of affected trees wilt and die, and the affected part may loose most of its foliage. If the damaged branches are split lengthwise, green, blue or brown streaks are found in the sap wood. Trees with a trunk diameter of less than two inches may be killed within one year.

Larger trees live for several years, but often decline and become unattractive. To control the disease, remove all dead or dying twigs and branches. Keep the tree well watered during drought and fertilize as needed in the early spring.

Maples are also susceptible to aphids. Aphids cause the sticky leaves and the dripping honeydew that is very often a problem with the maple trees. Aphids can be controlled using insecticidal soaps or many different insecticides.

Borers in maples are usually secondary borers that enter the trees after the trees are damaged by temperatures extremes, water problems or other conditions. Treat secondary borers as they appear instead of using preventive sprays. Try to eliminate the cause of the problems to avoid other secondary pests that might invade the tree.

Norway maples are the most common and the most susceptible to the above mentioned problems. Consider planting the native bigtooth Maple, the sycamore maple or the paperbark maple instead of Norway maple as they usually have fewer problems.

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