HELP -- Japanese Red Maple

I have a Red Maple in the backyard that is approx. 30 yrs. old. Last year there was dieback on two of the center branches. All the other branches leafed out and looked OK. I went up on a ladder and had a look but could not detect anything. I scraped away some of the soil around the base of the tree and still could not find any girdling or insects/grubs. I fertilized around the tree in Nov. with 9-18-9. This spring the Japanese Red Maple is in very bad shape. There is a lot more dieback in the center of the tree. Outer branches have leafed out. There are splits in the branches and bark is peeling off the tree. Where the bark is peeling the inner wood looks like it's getting sunscald or the discoloration happened first and caused the bark to peel off. The tree is also putting out new growth on the main trunk about 3 feet off the ground. I assume the tree is trying to save itself. The only thing that I have found (on-line and Garden Club members) that seems to fit is something called Tight Bark Syndrome in Japanese Maples. There doesn't seem to anything definite on what causes it or how to fix it. Reasons range from patogens, generic, environmental and drought. Fixes seem to be to careful pruning, low nitrogen fertilization and frequent watering. I'm looking for any information, suggestions or magic that you may have. I'd hate to lose this beautiful tree. TIA
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I'd purchase a backup just in case. Hopefully not needed. If needed may be prudent to change the tree location. I've a 35 year old and it is going strong. Gave us many babies that are now scattered about our home and they make great gifts. All different.
Bill Full moon lover.
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S Jersey USA Zone 5 Shade
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On 11 May 2006 09:20:17 -0700

You need to ask about this on the maple forum. Go to
http://www.ubcbotanicalgarden.org/forums /
and then maples. A lot of Maple Society folks hang around as well as people in the trade.
I have only heard about Tight Bark in an anecdotal way. I've never seen it mentioned in the literature. Not to say there's no such thing, but take it for what it's worth.
Why not regular Verticillium wilt? You describe wood decoloration, that's a symptom.
For a tree like this it's probably worth getting a local expert in to take a look, and quickly.
Good luck.
-E -- Emery Davis You can reply to snipped-for-privacy@ebayadelkadell.applecom by removing the well known companies
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Emery Davis wrote:

Thanks for the reply. Interesting Maple site. Will prowl around in there for awhile. I cut off one of the dead branches about 5-6 feet in length. I split the wood and do not see any staining on the sapwood so I don't think it's verticillum. Have a call in to cooperative extension, wil be talking with consultant on Monday.
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