Is there anything I can do for my tree?

I have a sugar maple tree that started getting black spots on the leaves about 3 years ago. I was told from a local nursery that there was little that could be done because the disease was established. The bark is now cracking and beginning to fall off. It covers about 1/3 of the trunk of the tree. The branches still look healthy. Is there anything that can be done or will the tree eventually die and have to be cut down? I live in Wisconsin and the tree is about 13 years old.
Submitted by BHGPhotoContest

"Your maple tree has two entirely unrelated problems going on. The black spots on the leaves are a fungal disease. It could either be anthracnose or tar spot. In either case, fungicide treatments are not warranted to control the disease, because overall growth of the tree is not affected.
The more serious problem is the trunk splitting that you see. That is caused by winter injury/sunscald. Maples have thin bark and are quite prone to splitting bark from when the low-angled winter sun heats up the bark during the day, but the temperature drops dramatically at night. This can kill the plant tissue under the bark. If the bark is loose, trim is back to where it is firmly attached to the trunk. Make a clean cut with a sharp knife. Leave the wound open to sun and wind to dry it out and seal it off from possible rotting organisms.
At 13 years of age, your maple tree should be developing a thick enough bark that it would not need to be wrapped over winter to protect it from sunscald any more. However, if the bark is still thin, it may help protect the tree to wrap it next winter with kraft paper tree wrap."


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