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Mr. Smarty Plants - Thinning out of maple tree following heavy winds

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Saturday - July 26, 2008

From: Royersford, PA
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Trees
Title: Thinning out of maple tree following heavy winds
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

A 15 yr old red maple lost significant fruit in spring from heavy winds, in summer the tree seems thinned out. Is this the reason? Tree is otherwise very healthy and has always had thick foliage in summer.

ANSWER:

You didn't say what red maple you have, but we chose to consider Acer rubrum var. rubrum (red maple) because it is native to Pennsylvania. Acer rubrum can be somewhat weak-wooded and may suffer storm damage. The following excerpts are from the article Red Maple by Russell L. Walters and Henry W. Yawney:

"Damaging Agents- Red maple is generally considered very susceptible to defect. Especially on poor sites, red maple often has poor form and considerable internal defect. Discoloration and decay advance much faster in red maple than in sugar maple. In northeastern Pennsylvania, average cull ranged from 13 percent in 12 in. diameter red maple trees to 46 percent in 24 in. diameter trees. Only associated beech and black birch were more defective."

"Mechanical injury is a common source of defect in hardwoods, and red maple is especially sensitive to wounding. Often, large areas of cambium surrounding the wound will die back. In shade tree maintenance, wound dressings have not proven effective in stimulating wound closure or internal compartmentalization of the damaged area. Increment boring causes discoloration and may lead to decay in red maple. Callus growth, when established, is reasonably rapid, but an extra year or two often is needed if cambial dieback has been extensive around the wound. Red maple was rated intermediate with respect to amount of damage after a severe glaze storm in Pennsylvania. In one study, major damage was sustained by 41 percent of the black cherry, 16 percent of the red maple, and 5 percent of the hemlock."

It would appear that you are correct that the wind damage is responsible for the thinning of the tree. If you have not observed any insect damage, we would think that given another year, the tree will recover.

 

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