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Need your opinion on Sugar Maple and How to Extend Life

Discussion in 'Homeowner Helper Forum' started by Damager, Nov 20, 2018.

  1. Damager

    Damager ArboristSite Lurker

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    I have a 90-100 foot sugar maple that is the highlight of my backyard. I really want to extend the life of this tree as long as possible.

    I also see some signs of problems, and my home (and bedroom) are very close to this tree. I would appreciate your opinion on 1) the health of this tree, 2) what I can do (whatever the cost) to extend it's life and 3) if it is dangerous this close to the house.

    I've attached some photos:

    1. The first is a long range shot of the entire tree.
    2. The second shows some hollow in the trunk.
    3. The third shows what I'm guessing was damage from a lightning strike spiraling down at the bottom of the tree.
    4. The fourth show a tree fungus about 30 feet up.

    The tree shows no obvious rocking or signs of instability, and the leaf canopy if full and healthy looking in season.

    Thanks for your expertise and please let me know if additional info / photos would be helpful.
     

    Attached Files:

  2. Oldmaple

    Oldmaple Addicted to ArboristSite

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    First off the decay and fruiting body of a fungus do not have an effect on the health, but does have an effect on the structural integrity of the tree. They are two separate issues. An onsite evaluation is always best from someone who doesn't have a financial interest in the outcome (example - the guy who would be removing or pruning the tree if it came to that). You have a decent amount of decay as shown by the fruiting body of a fungus. The concern here is how much load that the weakened spot is carrying. Pruning to thin the canopy is one way to reduce the load. I'm not a huge fan of canopy reduction (not the same as thinning) on Sugar Maples, especially older ones. Also need to be careful about how much thinning, 1/3 of the live canopy is a rule of thumb but my opinion is much less than that on an older tree. If someone comes along and suggests topping to reduce the load send him packing as quickly as possible. I've seen older Sugar Maples last a long time that were in worse condition than this one appears to be. Also a little more information on location would be helpful since recommendations may vary over the range of the species (New England vs Virginia)
     
  3. Damager

    Damager ArboristSite Lurker

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    Thanks for your great input Oldmaple. I'm in Illinois, outside Chicago. Sounds like thinning would make sense to lighten the load somewhat.
     
  4. buzz sawyer

    buzz sawyer Addicted to ArboristSite

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    What Oldmaple said, especially the part about topping. In my experience, maples don't respond well to heavy cuts since the wood rots so quickly. Rot starts before the tree can compartmentalize the wound.
    That is a beautiful tree, hope you can prolong it's life. I'd love to see a photo of the Fall foliage.
     
  5. Damager

    Damager ArboristSite Lurker

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    Thanks Buzz. Much to my surprise, I can't locate a Fall pic, but the tree turn most yellow with some orange - it's pretty amazing. Here is a pic of it lit up at night. IMG_1147.jpg
     
  6. Oldmaple

    Oldmaple Addicted to ArboristSite

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    One other thing popped into my brain about Maples. Watch out for early fall colors (pre Labor day or at least well before other maples in the area). This can be an indicator of health issues. Maples under stress will turn fall colors early, then the mystery starts as to why.
     
  7. Damager

    Damager ArboristSite Lurker

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    Got it - makes sense. This tree actually turns a bit late, but I'll continue to watch it. Thanks to you both for great advice.
     
  8. johninky

    johninky ArboristSite Operative

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    Not on topic but there is a very old house here in town with 3 very large sugar maples. The owner a few months ago, middle of summer, had all 3 topped. Every branch was cut back. Branch lengths now about 6 feet. I expect, no, I know, all 3 will soon be dead. I'll miss them.
     
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  9. Oldmaple

    Oldmaple Addicted to ArboristSite

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    Won't necessarily kill them but being older trees it would concern me. Your area has a longer growing season than we do, that's why I wanted a better location of the OP. Most concerning would be the new growth being all watersprouts (suckers), in five years or so will start to break off due to weak attachment points and the decay due to the large wounds not closing over quickly. I have done some vacationing in your beautiful state and have noticed some of the tree work done is horrible. Old habits die hard.
     
  10. johninky

    johninky ArboristSite Operative

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    "have noticed some of the tree work done is horrible. Old habits die hard."

    You are too kind. Horrible doesn't describe how homeowners around here PAY to have their trees hacked to death.

    Neighbor lady next door just had several limbs break off, Chinese Elm. Tree was topped several years ago and this will make the second time I have to clean up the mess. Even in its prime, a Chinese Elm is an ugly tree. I planted 2 on the farm in Ohio 50 years ago and still regret my decision.
     
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  11. no tree to big

    no tree to big Addicted to ArboristSite

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    What town are you in I'm in The west burbs I work for a full service tree service. We dont "top" any trees as a trimming service. There is a form of trimming called crown reduction we do offer but it's only called for in some cases. it's more of a strategic topping but is acceptable in the eyes of the isa.

    Edit: you are just north of rt.64 in St. Charles right?
    You are right on the edge of our service area if you'd like i can put in to have one of our arborists/estimators do an inspection/recommendation. I can also recommend a very knowledgable guy, I believe is based in st Charles, for a second opinion. You do have to be careful who you call out there, you are on the edge of quality guys vs. Hacks out that far west

    Question for the tree guys out there. how are your sugar maples doing? Around the chicago area we see sugars of just about every age and size pretty much just up and die or lose large portions. It looks perfect then over the next year possibly even over winter it's done for.
    We just trimmed a sugar for a client who has a different co. Fertalize his, he said it gets 3 shots a year spring summer and fall not sure what it gets but it is one of the fullest maples I've ever seen.
    Not sure I'd recommend putting this tree on steroids due to the structural problems but I'm not sure which route would be better. trim and prey for the best or fertalize and trim more often? Sugars arnt exactly the fastest growers in the world so that does help.
     
  12. Damager

    Damager ArboristSite Lurker

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    Yes - I'm in St Charles. Would appreciate the "expert eyes" on this one. Which company are you with?
     

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