Winter dieback?

Cdcurnick

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This was my first winter with my trees…. They all seemed to survive but not without a few minor issues, most on this Chinese elm…. Is this what dieback from the cold looks like?

(the tree broke dormancy early so I had to pull it inside with how cold it’s getting tonight, it lives outside)
CC54DEAF-A45A-46D9-A78B-F8C632C5552C.jpeg
 
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Shibui

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I can see healthy wood with healthy buds ready to open.
If you are referring to the 2 small dead ends they are from last year's pruning. After pruning branches usually die back to the closest healthy bud and those are typical. It may look bad but does not affect the tree. Trimming close above a bud or leaf will minimize the size of after pruning dead sections or prune anywhere then go back a few weeks later and trim any stubs back to live shoots.
Just snip the dead ends close to the live branch and it should heal over in a few weeks.
 

Cdcurnick

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I can see healthy wood with healthy buds ready to open.
If you are referring to the 2 small dead ends they are from last year's pruning. After pruning branches usually die back to the closest healthy bud and those are typical. It may look bad but does not affect the tree. Trimming close above a bud or leaf will minimize the size of after pruning dead sections or prune anywhere then go back a few weeks later and trim any stubs back to live shoots.
Just snip the dead ends close to the live branch and it should heal over in a few weeks.
Im referring to the transition from grey bark, to brown just after the node above my pinky in the photo. Where it looks like it has dormant winter buds but seems like it dead to me? Kinda like the growth didn’t get a chance to harden off before winter…

Most of the tree is healthy and the buds are opening, but theres a few branches with this sort of brown coloration to the end that had me wondering. It’s not very severe and doesnt really impact the tree, was mostly just looking to understand so I can make adjustments in the future.
 

Shibui

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Im referring to the transition from grey bark, to brown just after the node above my pinky in the photo. Where it looks like it has dormant winter buds but seems like it dead to me? Kinda like the growth didn’t get a chance to harden off before winter…

Most of the tree is healthy and the buds are opening, but theres a few branches with this sort of brown coloration to the end that had me wondering. It’s not very severe and doesnt really impact the tree, was mostly just looking to understand so I can make adjustments in the future.
Either my eyes or the photos are not clear enough to pick any obvious change. On second view maybe you are talking about the brown bark on the 2 thinner shoots that grow off the section that's almost vertical in the photo. That change of color looks perfectly normal to me. Older bark is grey while younger shoots still have brownish bark. The buds on the brown branches still look good to me.
It will be interesting to see if the buds open or die.

Even in warmer areas Chinese elm has a reputation for branches dying for no apparent reason but does not look like that's the case here.
Dead shoots can be frustrating but where it does not really impact on the tree's growth and development I don't worry.


When large branches die it can be devastating initially but experience shows me that such events are often more of an opportunity than a disaster as we tend to style initially with far more branches than really necessary. I know that's all way above your initial question. Just passing on some experience and ideas.
 

defra

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i dont see anything to worry about...
the color changes when the wood gets older.
the twig at your midle finger died off because there was no buds left on there thats normal.
my ulmus waking up slowly as well and we get frost at night still but i dont move it indoor
 

sorce

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Few Red Flags....

First Winter. (See next (..) )
Chinese Elm. (Prone to needing *acclimation)
Broke Dormancy. (But didn't break frost safety)

Brought it inside.....

At this point, when the pictured buds can still handle a frost, bringing it inside is fooling it into thinking it's warmer than it is, so it hastens it's breaking of dormancy beyond the point of frost protection and becomes susceptible the night, or day, you forget to bring it in.

This is why the "2-step" should be avoided and is a stupid concept.

The difficulty in getting out of it is usually because it starts the fall before.

"Dieback".....

A tree in nature won't get dieback without intervention. They are smarter than to waste energy in growth they can't sustain.

Only a late summer/early fall trauma causes the tree to utilize it's recovery method of "backbudding" and growing anew, which causes late growth susceptible to "dieback", because it didn't have time to achieve enough mass to build protection.

We have the responsibility to not cut too late to prevent this "dieback".

Since most of what we call "dieback" is due to the stu-step, and our cutting too late, I believe *acclimation is actually mostly a myth.

Sorce
 

Cdcurnick

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Few Red Flags....

First Winter. (See next (..) )
Chinese Elm. (Prone to needing *acclimation)
Broke Dormancy. (But didn't break frost safety)

Brought it inside.....

At this point, when the pictured buds can still handle a frost, bringing it inside is fooling it into thinking it's warmer than it is, so it hastens it's breaking of dormancy beyond the point of frost protection and becomes susceptible the night, or day, you forget to bring it in.

This is why the "2-step" should be avoided and is a stupid concept.

The difficulty in getting out of it is usually because it starts the fall before.

"Dieback".....

A tree in nature won't get dieback without intervention. They are smarter than to waste energy in growth they can't sustain.

Only a late summer/early fall trauma causes the tree to utilize it's recovery method of "backbudding" and growing anew, which causes late growth susceptible to "dieback", because it didn't have time to achieve enough mass to build protection.

We have the responsibility to not cut too late to prevent this "dieback".

Since most of what we call "dieback" is due to the stu-step, and our cutting too late, I believe *acclimation is actually mostly a myth.

Sorce

Thank you for the insight.

The buds in the picture are definitely still dormant, but elsewhere on the tree the buds are already well extended. Meaning I’m doing the bonsai shuffle.

The tree still lives outdoors, I just brought it in when temps dipped into the 20’s that one night, When it’s otherwise in the high 30’s/40’s. We had an uncharacteristically warm winter that caused the tree to come out of dormancy in early feb. This is also the case with others in my area. The temps in Jan and Feb got into the 70’s.

I had some things during fall that caused me to have to change things up for my trees for a month and was worried that cause growth to not harden off properly resulting in what I thought was dieback, but seems to just be immature growth. The dieback on the cut branch is not what I’m referencing.

I have a unique growing environment made up of planter boxes on railings on my Juliette balcony that faces south, so winter was a bit tricky trying to figure out how to overwinter my trees.
 

RKatzin

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It's not uncommon for some deciduous trees to show a bit of green in the middle of winter. Elms will do this, along with autumn olive and some birch. It's also pretty common for elm twigs to appear to be dead, even after the trees have leafed out. Most often these just need a little more time to get with the program. If they're still flexible they're alive. If they are brittle and snap when you flex them they're dead and will usually turn black as the tree wakes up.
 

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