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SPRING WEATHER AFFECTS FALL COLORS

Milwaukee, WI


Autumn is normally when trees have their last chance to show off with their brilliant fall colors. This year has become the exception to the rule for many Maple trees due to two fungal diseases. The cool, wet weather this spring has increased the incidence of Maple Anthracnose and Tar Spot disease on Maple trees in the Milwaukee area.

Maple Anthracnose causes browning along the veins of Maple leaves and often leads to some defoliation early in the summer. Luckily, the disease isn’t too damaging to Maple trees, but the leaf loss can result in a loss of intensity of fall colors due to less leaves being on the trees.

Tar Spot can be a bit more disturbing to homeowners due to the large black spots that become visible on the leaves in the late summer. A high level of Tar Spot disease on a Maple tree causes the leaves to curl and turn brown rather than their normal yellow, red, or orange fall colors. Just like Maple Anthracnose, Tar Spot is usually not a significant health concern for healthy Maple trees.

Homeowners should rake and dispose of as many fallen Maple leaves as they can. This is where the spores of the two diseases overwinter. Tree services can reduce the level of Maple Anthracnose and Tar Spot with fungicide treatments. These treatments, however, must be applied in the spring when the leaves are first developing. Fall tree fertilization can help stressed Maple trees that are heavily infected by Maple Anthracnose or Tar Spot.

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