I have an Emperor 1 Japanese maple (in hardiness zone 4) which I planted 18 years ago and it has done well, fast growth, no issues till recently.
I noticed last fall that some of the leaves didn't fall off, unusual. Then this spring about 25% of the tree did not leaf out, so I cut out those branches. Then I noticed the dead bark in the crotches near the tree base, pulled off pealing bark and revealed these dead spots on the trunk that appear to be dry and healing over. This situation is in 3-4 crotch locations.
Any ideas what caused this, and will things improve on their own?