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Trees slow to break buds

Posted by fenix 7 (My Page) on
Tue, Apr 13, 10 at 20:16

Hi all,

I planted about twenty large trees last fall and most have leafed out this spring and appear to be doing well with three exceptions. I have a large legacy sugar maple, a large scarlet maple and a large nuttal oak that have all yet to break bud; meanwhile everything else in my yard, and all around us for that matter, is green and leafy (we are located in upstate South Carolina - zone 7). These trees were all large balled and burlapped trees (around 15 ft tall, 2" diameter trunks). Scratching the cambium of the tree reveals that they are all still alive though the buds do not seem to show any signs of swelling. Any thoughts as to whether or not they will recover from transplanting or are they gonners? Do transplanted trees typically take longer to break bud? I appreciate any help. Thanks.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Trees slow to break buds

If they are green under the bark, this calls for patience. The trees are still in shock after only one season in the ground and not exactly aware that they should be leafed out. Ever heard of beating them awake with a baseball bat? Me neither, and I'm not recommending it.


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RE: Trees slow to break buds

Gee whiz its only early april.
Many sugar maples, esp those from the north leaf out later. The two that I have remaining don't leaf out until mid may.
Nutall oaks haven't leafed out here yet (georgia) so I wouldn't worry about that either. There are hundreds of red/scarlet maple cultivars and some leaf out later than others. Some here are fully leafed out and some are still flowering.

Rather than the "scratch test", if you do what I call the "snap test" you can find out whats up. If you go to lightly flex the end of a branch does it snap and break? If not try to be patient. I know it is nerve wracking though to wait for trees to leaf out. Part of me likes having late leafing trees in case there's a late freeze but part of me likes knowing everything is going to wake up.


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RE: Trees slow to break buds

Thanks for the responses; I'll try my best to be patient. I'm just concerned b/c again, there is absolutely zero activity visual on these trees when everything else has leafed out.
I did try the flex test on the sugar maple and oak. Some of the lower twigs did in fact snap off, while others on top still remain flexible.


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RE: Trees slow to break buds

Then I hope you saved your receipt.

Or have a warranty.

If it were a clear cold hardiness issue or if fertilizer, miracle die or root stimulator was used at planting I'd be real concerened. But if it was planted improperly or there is something else serious going on, it should have enough stored energy to at least begin leaf out


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RE: Trees slow to break buds

I bought them from two reputable nurseries, but nonetheless ones that only offers a 30 day guarantee on plants and trees. They are sugar maples and oaks (I'm in South Carolina) so it's definitely not an issue of cold hardiness. It got cold this past winter (colder than usual from what I understand - I moved here from Iowa last June), but it did not drop below zero. I also did not use any fertilizer or root stimulator at the time of planting. I simply back-filled with the clay soil that the holes were dug from. The oaks were purchased b and b and were in the ground in the late summer; I kept them watered through the winter. They changed colors in the fall (the scarlet oak was beautiful) and held onto their leaves all winter long, losing them only recently. The sugar maple was purchased b and b and planted on the day it was dug from the field (which is about five miles away), which was in december after it had dropped its leaves. It received plenty of water at planting and through the fall and winter as well. The existing root ball is huge, though I realize it's significantly less than what the tree had before it was dug; I hope the digging and subsequent loss of the majority of its roots isn't going to end up killing it. In Iowa I purchased everything in containers. Down here it is significantly less expensive to plant large b and b trees than it was at home, thus, I thought I was doing something pretty special...I'm almost more worried about being able to move the trees if they don't make it than I am the money. They are very large and very heavy. I'm keeping my fingers crossed. Thanks for the responses.


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RE: Trees slow to break buds

It doesn't sound like you have anything to worry about.
Especially if the oaks just dropped their leaves.

Tree farms water so frequently and fertilize in such a way that it encourages the roots to stick near the tree.

Mark your calendar to start worrying june 1st if they still haven't leafed out.


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RE: Trees slow to break buds

I planted a couple of B&B trees last fall as well. One was a sugar and the other and October Glory red maple. The sugar has come out, but just in the last week in some 80-85 degree heat. It was a good bit slower than I expected. The October Glory still only has about 2 leaves that have even emerged from the buds.

So don't worry. It's not just you.


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RE: Trees slow to break buds

Thanks again for the responses.


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RE: Trees slow to break buds

Well even if the sugar maple doesn't leaf out, better you have it die now than in 5 years when granular ambrosia beetle kills it just as it starts to give some appreciable shade.


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RE: Trees slow to break buds

I benefited from transplanting a tiny Sugar Maple sapling from Forest Farm last fall. It leafed out 3 wks ago! The larger the transplants are the longer it sometimes takes for them to break dormancy. But once they do you should be fine. Would you guys recommend watering a tree more often if it hasn't broken dormancy??


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RE: Trees slow to break buds

"Well even if the sugar maple doesn't leaf out, better you have it die now than in 5 years when granular ambrosia beetle kills it just as it starts to give some appreciable shade."

Grrreeeeaaattt.

It broke bud yesterday. :)


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