Weeping Willow This Spring: Lots of Dead Branches

I just wondered if there was anything to do or check. This weeping willow is maybe about 5 years old. Normally I don't do anything to it and it grows like a weed. Maybe it was just a dry spring or something, but this year, unlike any other year, or any other weeping willows nearby, has just TONS of dead branches. Each one of the prunes in this shot had zero leaves:
http://personal.bellsouth.net/d/r/drseng/wwillow/140-4060_IMG.JPG . A lot of the branches, up to 3/4 in diameter were brittle and dry (only right up against the trunk was there any moisture). This branch is the biggest one I cut:
http://personal.bellsouth.net/d/r/drseng/wwillow/140-4061_IMG.JPG and there were a few shoots near the base, but a few feet out, it would crack in two by bending one time. But look at this pile I cut that had zero leaves:
http://personal.bellsouth.net/d/r/drseng/wwillow/140-4064_IMG.JPG . And that was just the ones I could reach. I scraped away the mulch and didn't see any strangulation roots, which my wife read about. I looked at the bark and there were these little 'boogers' on there. This is the trunk:
http://personal.bellsouth.net/d/r/drseng/wwillow/140-4068_IMG.JPG . And this is on a main branch that's about 3 1/2 inches in diameter:
http://personal.bellsouth.net/d/r/drseng/wwillow/140-4070_IMG.JPG .
I know these are some of the most hard to kill trees around, so unless there's a clear problem ID and solution, I'll likely not do anything, but I am curious about it, so if anyone has any ideas, I'd like to hear 'em. Thanks.
--Dale--
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Here's some links you may enjoy.
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John A. Keslick, Jr. wrote:

(snip)
Wow, That's a lot of data. I'm not sure my background, which has little biology, will allow me to properly assimilate it.
Nothing specific, then, that might jump out at you the with the willow? There are 3 others that are 100 yards away that had none of the die back.
--Dale--
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On 15 May 2006 17:59:16 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@sengsational.com wrote:

Hi Dale,
You haven't by any chance been using a Weed & Feed product or some other form of broadleaf control close by have you?
Trees are broadleaf's and some are more susceptible to lawn care products than others. Weeping Willows usually have roots really close to the surface and could have troubles with this.
--
Leon Fisk
Grand Rapids MI/Zone 5b
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Leon Fisk wrote:

Yep, I nearly killed my shrubs with weed&feed.
Carl
--
to reply, change ( .not) to ( .net)

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Leon, Thanks. That's a good thought that never occurred to me. Thanks for getting me thinking along the "poisoning" lines. Zocor just about poisoned my father-in-law to death recently, you'd think the thought of poisons would be closer at hand. Anyway, I have used Roundup around the beds, but I've been careful not to spray any foliage and I've not used it during windy conditions. The mulch bed around this tree gets Roundup, but that stuff is supposed to be working above ground, becoming ineffective upon contact with the soil. I haven't used and kind of weed b gone near that tree. I usually put some pre-emergent on the adjacent lawn, but I doubt that would have any effect.
All, One thing I did notice was something sort of funky (maybe fungus) at the base of the tree, when I scraped away the mulch:
http://personal.bellsouth.net/d/r/drseng/wwillow/140-4075_IMG.JPG ,
http://personal.bellsouth.net/d/r/drseng/wwillow/140-4077_IMG.JPG .
The little I know about trees suggests anything that affects the area just under the bark is serious, since that's where the flow of water and nutrients happens. And it looks like that black stuff is not what a happy tree would have. That black stuff is on the uphill side of the tree, covering about 1/3 of the circumference.
I'll keep the mulch away from the base of the tree from now on, but I wonder if this is something that needs treatment, or if it will recover on its own.
--Dale--
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