Dying leader on Metasequoia

I have a three-year-old Metasequoia, Which I started from seed. Last fall, I planted it out in my yard. It looks good for most of this year, but about a month ago, I noticed it was showing some slight browning at the uppermost part of the leader.

I thought it was perhaps fall color, but look now.

It’s crispy brown, including the stem itself, not the typical orange brown fall color, where the leaf still has turgidity.

Plus, Metasequoia usually stays green until closer to November 1.

Rest of the tree looks good, and I have no reason to believe at this point it won’t send up another leader next year, but what would cause this, and is it something serious?

I don’t think it’s a water issue, we have plenty of rain until a few weeks ago, and I’ve been watering it since then.

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What is your location?

How does your irrigation water compare with rain water?

What fertilizers and/or supplements do you provide?

Here is a description of the native climate for Metasequoia glyptostroboides:

Situated in South-central China, Hubei Province features a subtropical monsoon climate. The average temperature for a year is about 15° C (59° F). The Province has distinct four seasons with burning hot summer (June, July and August) and chilly winter (December, January and February). The hottest month, July, averaging 27-30°C and the coldest month, January, 1-5°C.

Wuhan, the capital city in Hubei Province, is known as one of the ‘four stoves’ in China because the torrid climate in summer (there are more than 20 days with the temperature above 35° C or 95° F. The mountainous districts of western Hubei, in particular Shennongjia, with their cooler summers, attract numerous visitors from Wuhan and other lowland cities.

The annual rainfall in Hubei Province is between 800-1600mm on average. Summer is the wettest month in Hubei with 300-700mm in average. Hubei’s driest season is Winter, with average rainfall at 30-190mm. The period from mid-June to mid-July is called the plum rain season in Hubei as the rainfall in this time reaches the peak in the year.

Central Maryland.

Metasequoia grows very well here.

But it’s not doing so well at your place.

How does your irrigation water compare with rain water?

What fertilizers and/or supplements do you provide?

It only got incidental lawn fertilizer. Our well water is fairly soft and mildly acidic.

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Is there any sign if the leader having bent below the die back?


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Are there “root chompers” in the area?

It was a cicada! I found the oviposit.

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Too much water, combined with clay soil? (Or too cold last winter)

It still looks flat topped, but a new leader has started.

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