Preliminary reading suggests that the only way is to rake up the fallen leaves and get rid of them. Will this do the trick?

Is there a way I could keep the leaves for compost without propagating the tar spot fungus to next year?

  • 1
    You don't say where you are in your profile. I'm in southern New Hampshire, and it became ubiquitous here over the last 5 or so years. Getting rid of the leaves doesn't seem to help any - for me. It's really ugly.
    – Ed Staub
    Nov 4 '11 at 0:18
  • @EdStaub, Have you tried a fungicide to get rid of the tar spots? Thanks.
    – Om Patange
    Nov 7 '11 at 0:43
  • No - we have 3 25-foot trees and 3 50-foot trees, and we're in the city with lots of surrounding trees, some infected.
    – Ed Staub
    Nov 7 '11 at 4:41

This site describes the tar spot. It does not harm the tree but is unsightly. The causal agent, a fungus, overwinters on the leaves. If your neighbours have maple trees and don't follow rigorous cleanup chances are good cleanup work on your part will not reduce the chance of infection.

"Short-term composting of mulches in windrows under high-temperature conditions (130-160 degrees F) kills these plant pathogens. Six weeks of composting is sufficient to kill most plant pathogens and avoid their dissemination in mulches or composts."

That being said it's hard to provide uniform temperature for an extended period of time with a homeowner composting set up. I wouldn't take the chance that your compost will provide the right temperatures.

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