Maple Clorosis in Tri-Cities Washington

Christopher Wray
June 19, 2024
Red Maple tree in June in Tri-Cities Washington
Red Maple tree in June in Tri-Cities Washington

Does this look familiar to you? It might. It’s a common sight in the Tri-Cities Washington this time of year. Maple trees start to yellow and look terrible. 

Are you wondering what may be the issue? The problem is called chlorosis and is caused by iron deficiency. This is especially common in our area, where we have high pH levels mainly in our irrigation water. 

Some areas of the Tri-cities are fine because plants are irrigated from irrigation districts that use water out of the rivers, namely Pasco Irrigation or (maybe it is called Franklin County), and K.I.D., which pump directly out of the Columbia and the Yakima River. River water is 7 pH (Alkalinity Measurement) and is OK for almost all trees.

The two most problematic areas are the Desert Plateau above the airport and Badger Canyon west of I 82. These areas are irrigated from old Ag wells that have terribly high Alkalinity which is so high in Calcium that it ties up the iron in the soil…hence the trees become anemic just like people will when low in iron. This causes the yellowing and soon will show burn around leaf edges from the coming July heat.

Treatment Options  

What can you do about it? 

Next year, in early spring, apply iron and sulfur to the top of the soil for the tree to digest. At Garden Gate, we sell an iron and sulfur product that does not stain your sidewalks. Feel free to reach out or stop by the nursery if you’d like to purchase some. Here are some other things you can do as well.

Other Trees

Your best option? Don’t plant Red Sunsets or Autumn Blaze in certain areas.

Unfortunately, certain varieties of maples just don’t do well in our area due to this and they may not be the best fit. These include the Red Sunset Maple and the Autumn Blaze Maple. The Red Sunset is a common tree that is being planted right now in our new subdivisions. We’re pretty bummed the contractors have chosen this one.

There is one type of red maple that can do pretty well in higher pH soils- the Redpoint Maple. This maple has been shown to stay green throughout the season where Red Sunset and Autumn Blaze maples turned yellow.

Other trees that are great choices in place of red maples are Lindens, Oaks (however have found that Pin Oaks and Scarlet Oak do not do as well as Red Oak and others), Honeylocusts, and Norway maple varieties. These varieties are mostly chlorosis tolerant. If looking for a green Norway maple, check out the Ruby Sunset and Urban Sunset maples. They’re not only chlorosis tolerant, they’re super hardy as well.

We have a great supply of Greenspire and Harvest Gold Lindens available now, and for wholesale orders of over 50, we’re giving customers a discount of 30%. Please reach out to us if you’re interested.

Thanks for reading

Thanks so much for reading. If you’re purchasing from us, feel free to ask us about chlorosis-tolerant trees. We’re always happy to help.

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