The sycamore tree is a North American native that can be found in all areas of the country. This cold-hardy, deciduous tree produces rich green, simple foliage that develops into a broad but rounded crown. With a rapid growth rate, this large tree can quickly reach heights up to 90 feet high with a spread up to 70 feet wide. The sycamore tree can found throughout Connecticut, in areas with deep, nutrient-rich and well-drained soils.
The sycamore tree is susceptible to several diseases. In Connecticut, the most common sycamore tree diseases include anthracnose, sycamore blight, powdery mildew, canker and bacterial leaf scorch. These common diseases have varying effects on the infected sycamore. Signs of infection include foliage lesions, premature defoliation, wilt, foliage discoloration, trunk cankers, dieback and growth stunt, to name just a few. While some of these diseases have minor effects on the sycamore, canker and bacterial leaf scorch can cause severe injury, if not death, of the infected tree
Pruning your sycamore, especially during its early years, can greatly reduce the sycamore's potential for infection. The pruning process should be completed during the early spring, just before the onset of the growing season. The process should include the removal of any damaged, diseased or wilted branches and foliage. This will redirect the sycamore's energy to more viable areas of the tree and reduce the spread of potentially infectious fungal spores. Young sycamore trees should also be pruned to develop a good framework and a central leader. The interior branches and foliage of the sycamore should be thinned to increase the sunlight and air circulation throughout the tree's crown. Increased sunlight and air circulation also reduces the potential of fungal and bacterial spore development.
Proper fertilization is essential to the healthy growth of the sycamore tree. The U.S. Department of Agriculture explains that the growth rate of the sycamore tree will become stagnant when its nutrients are unavailable. This stagnation causes the sycamore tree to become stressed and thus more susceptible to disease. The sycamore tree should be fertilized regularly throughout the growing season, from early spring through late fall.
Feed the trees with a well-balanced, slow-release fertilizer, such as a 10-10-10 or 20-20-20 combination. The fertilizer should be incorporated into the sycamore's soil and kept at least a foot away from the trunk of the tree to prevent root burn and injury.
Most of the diseases that infect the sycamore are spore-borne diseases. These spores not only germinate on infected trees, they lie dormant and germinate on the decomposing leaf litter that lies around the tree. The sycamore is a large tree that can quickly shed a large amount of leaf litter in the fall. It is important that you collect this debris and keep the tree's surroundings free of defoliation. This will greatly reduce the potential of disease.
Fungicidal and bactericide spray treatments are effective in controlling and preventing sycamore tree diseases when they are combined with a healthy care regime. These chemical treatments must be applied according to the directions to prevent injury to the tree and to ensure the effectiveness of the chemicals. Timely applications are also essential in ensuring the effectiveness of the treatment. Speak with your local nursery or agricultural extension representative for assistance in diagnosing your tree's disease and selecting the appropriate treatment.