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Trunk decay on a young Acer

Posted by Richard Anderson , May 06,2005,13:41       Forum

Hi, I'd like to attempt a rescue of a young tree ruined by my lack of experience and would like some advice.

Along with several other tree species, we have two identicle Acer Brilliantissium. All the young trees were planted in 2001 in our garden in Essex, UK. Ground is red clay with no topsoil to speak of. Conditions vary from sloppy to concrete-like depending on the season. All the trees were provided with planting holes approx 1 metre square and 30cm deep then back filled with a mix of clay,imported topsoil, coarse grit and well rotted compost. All, including the Acer in question are growing vigorously. The two Acers are top grafted standards on what looks like Acer Campestre root stock. Planted at about 120cm high to the under crown, they are both now approx 170cm. Both crowns are aprox 70cm round made up of aprox a dozen branches(twigs) each. They are both well leafed again this year and show no other signs of ill health.

In 2002 the bark split on one of the Acers. The split was about 20cm long about 20cm below the crown/graft point. I sealed this straight away when the edges of the split were still white. This did not work and I have subsequently read lots that tell me where I went wrong. However, I have continued to regularly maintain the seal over this wound in the hope that the tree would callous over. The opposite is happening and it now has a cavity almost halfway through the 3.5cm trunk. A cross section through it would show as a fat 'C' shape. With the wax sealer carefully removed, the inside of the cavity is dry, clean and uniform black in colour.
Its obvious that this weak section will be the cause of this trees demise either because it rots right through or wind pressure will decapitate it. I'd like to try and salvage something just for the experience if nothing else.
Qu.1 Is it possible to let a section of Acer Campestre core wood and bark into the decayed area like a graft and will it improve the trees strength? (We have Campestre of suitable size in our hedge).
Qu.2 If grafting the decay area is not adisable, can I preserve the crown of the tree by removing it and grafting it to its partner?

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