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Johnson County

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Johnson County
11811 S. Sunset Drive
Suite 1500
Olathe, KS 66061

Office Hours:

Monday - Friday,
8:30 a.m. - 5 p.m.

(913) 715-7000
(913) 715-7005 fax

Map to our office

K-State Research and Extension is committed to making its services, activities and programs accessible to all participants. Reasonable accommodations for persons with disabilities may be requested by contacting Johnson County Extension at (913)715-7000. Notify staff of accommodation needs as early as possible.

Kansas State University Agricultural Experiment Station and Cooperative Extension Service

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Red Maple Trees:  Common problems

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Red maple trees are popular but suffer from a number of problems. They are slow to establish, have poor branching structure and, most importantly, they are susceptible to long-term trunk injury or damage, which results in internal rot and decay. Because of these problems, they are not the best choice for a long-term shade tree in the Kansas City area.

Other, less serious problems can also plague these trees. A foliar disease called anthracnose can be hard on these trees. This disease is most severe under cooler and moist spring conditions. The leaf disease results in black spots covering the leaves. The infected leaf drops from the tree, leaving a thin canopy, which reduces the energy available to the tree for proper growth. Control of anthracnose is not recommended as it is not serious but does cause concern and leaves the tree looking less desirable. This disease happens almost every year depending on weather patterns.

Another alarming concern with red maples in the spring is tip dieback. The new growth that emerges in the spring can be killed back, turning a blackened color. This growth will eventually drop from the tree. The problem is referred to as scorch. Scorch occurs when the plant loses more moisture through the leaf tissue than can be supplied by the root and vascular system, such as during periods of prolonged drought.

If you have a red maple in the landscape, what can you do? The easiest answer is to provide good care. Avoid stress on the tree that would lead to trunk injury and prune properly to improve the branch structure. In addition, young red maples less then five years old should be watered on a regular basis throughout dry periods. The younger the tree, the more often. More established trees should be deeply soaked on a monthly basis.

When selecting a new shade tree for the landscape, do not settle for the easy and over-planted red maple. There are many other species of shade trees available with fewer problems that will provide beauty in the landscape.

K-State Research and Extension Johnson County Master Gardener logo

Have questions? The Garden Hotline is staffed by trained EMG volunteers and Extension staff who will assist you with questions.

Phone: (913) 715-7050

Email: garden.help@jocogov.org