I live in NY, Long Island and have a very large and old Red Japanese
Maple that last summer had leaves on only parts of the tree, and now it
seems to have peeling bark. Took a sample to the Cornell Cooperative
Extension, they said if have verticilium wilt should see it in tree
sample-didn't see it. Asked if lawn sprayer guy accidently sprayed
tree, they said no. We haven't had major construction or line work in
area, so- not sure how much to water or fertilize but first 2 years in
house no problems, except for last year! Everyone wants several
hundred just to see the tree with no guarnetees! Does anyone have
experience with these larger trees in this area-climate-we really want
to save this beautiful specimen?
How large is very large? How old is very old? Does it have good
buds for this year? That last is the most important; if no,
it's too late. Has it had a change to its light situation,
like a neighbor tree removed?
Have you tested the soil? Perhaps the previous owners
were doing maintenance.
Of course no one will guarantee that they can cure your
tree before seeing it. If it is a fungal outbreak it may
be already too late. Another fungus that attacks japanese
maples is fusarium. Although rarer than verticillium it
has a similar effect. Neither fungus is all that common
on well established trees.
Was there any kind of mold on the leaves? Maybe Botrytis.
Here's what I would do. First give it a wash, while still dormant,
with a tar oil based spray. Treat the soil with a benomyl-based
fungicide at regular intervals. If benomyl is illegal find the
substitute. Let it leaf out, when (if) the leaves are reasonably
mature treat with Bordeaux mixture every 3 weeks.
Don't water. Mulch the base to the crown edge with peat.
Oh, and if I were you, I'd pay a qualified tree specialist to
look at it. Nothing is going to replace experience on the
ground. The tree is worth basically priceless, because
as you describe it, it can't be replaced in your life time.
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