Sugar maple borer

Asked October 27, 2019, 5:31 PM EDT

My sugar maple tree appeared healthy in the month of August. Within maybe three days the leaves all rapidly turned brown and all fell off giving the appearance that it died. I looked at the trunk and saw numerous holes in a circular pattern on various parts of the tree. I'm guessing this was from a sugar maple borer but am open to other possibilities? Will the tree likely recover and, if so, should I treat it with anything. I have attached pics. Thank you

Carroll County Maryland sugar maple dieback tree

1 Response

The holes in the trunk looks like sapsucker damage and is not the cause for decline.
https://extension.umd.edu/hgic/topics/woodpeckers-and-sapsuckers
This looks like a possible root issue. The root system may have been subject to too much moisture, poor drainage, poor site conditions, girdling roots, etc.
Last season and this spring we had abnormal rainfall and this can affect the root system. The saturated soil reduces oxygen and the root system declines. We also had a drought and this affects the roots as well.
Girdling roots grow at or below the soil line and can gradually strangle the trunk. You can look for this around the base of the trunk. You may need to pull back the mulch and look for this. https://extension.umd.edu/hgic/topics/girdling-roots

All you can do is check the drainage in the area, look for girdling roots, make sure mulch is no thicker than several inches and away from the trunk of the trees. Water established plants during dry periods.

The tree does not look good. At this point, you can scratch the branches with your fingernail and look for green tissue. If you see it, the tree may be viable and you may have to wait until next spring for new growth and decide. If you see brown/gray it is dead and you will have to remove it.

Marian