The Q&A Archives: early defoliation

Question: In my back yard there is a large elm approximately 45 feet tall or more. The leaves are starting to fall off and they have small black specks on them and leaves are not the normal bright green.Can a tree this size be treated and if so with what.

Answer: Unfortunately, based on your description I am not able to diagnose the cause of the defoliation. It might be a pest or disease problem or it could be related to root damage or a change in drainage patterns or accidental herbicide exposure, or some other cultural problem. I would strongly suggest you consult with your local Cornell cooperative extension and/or a professionally trained and certified arborist to get a specific identification of the problem(s). Based on knowing that, you can decide what to do. An arborist would have the necessary equipment to spray a tree of that size, should a spray treatment be necessary. But, it is really important to get a firm diagnosis before proceeding. Also, it is a good idea to rake up and dispose of all the fallen leaves in the trash to try to limit sources of reinfection in case it is a disease or pest problem. I hope it is nothing too serious.

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