I live in Chicago we have had a fig tree for about 40 years, it was my grandfathers. I covered it the same way for all these year in the winter. This year after the winter I uncovered it to find like white moss or white webs on it with no leaves or buds. Now the tree has life on the bottom of the trunk and on the trunk but nothing on the branches. Would anyone have an idea what happened this year? Its been uncovered for about two 1/2 weeks now. So sad
I don't have any pictures of the white Webbing stuff on the tree when I uncovered it but I will send you pictures of what it looks like now and what it looks like last year
posted 2 years ago
As you could see there's little budding on the trunk and on the bottom of the tree. But no signs of buds on the top of it. If I do cut into some of the branches they are still green. I did cut off pretty much of a lot of the Dead stuff. Like I said I do not know what caused this first time in over 20 years I've ever seen a tree like this
Hi Chuck, and welcome. The bad news is it looks like the top part of the tree has had some sort of systemic collapse and has died back. The good news is that the tree is still very much alive, as evidenced by all those vigorous shoots at the base. It may have gotten knocked back by an unusually bitter cold snap, or was affected by bacterial or fungal pathogens, possibly spread by borers. Your description of the white material says that fungus are in there now, but whether they did the deed or are opportunistically going to work on the dead wood is up for debate. I would cut it down to the level where lots of growth is taking place, leaving a clean angle on the stump to shed water. Then I'd do an autopsy on the top, cutting it into pieces and looking closely at the cambium and interior wood to see if there are any clues to what happened.
I'd also avoid putting anything on the cut stump except for a thin coating of limewash or clay to discourage bugs from burrowing in. Let those shoots grow this year, and next winter when the leaves are gone thin them to a handful of new trunks. Put the rest in damp sand in a shed and then move them into the sun in the spring. In case the old tree dies completely on you, this way you've got clones to replace it.
Maybe the roots are limited for space. Is the bed its planted in a confined space below surface? If so it could be "pot" bound with its own roots circling and strangling each other. Cutting the dead stuff off seems like the right thing. I'd be inclined to cut this tree back aggressively so that the roots will die back to match. Any improvements in new growth since you cut the dead wood?
If you like the tree form I wouldn't rush to cutting down the trunk. Fig trees can be very surprising and send out new branches, as you can already see happening above the rope. This winter a lot of us northeners had fungi/mold attack our protected trees. A lot of us are blaming it on the hot fall followed by deep cold....trees didn't properly go dormant. Hope that doesn't keep happening, but I won't be surprised if it does.