A result of attack by various fungi and nematodes, which adds to damage from winter injury and stress on plants especially those in poorly drained sites. This causes stunted growth and dieback. Young foliage turns gray-green or bronze and finally straw color. Old leaves fall prematurely. Middle or top branches die. Sunken cankers form at the soil line or on branches in the crotches where dead leaves accumulate. Wood under the sunken canker is blackened. Protect plants from winter injury and other stresses. Prune dead branches well below cankered areas. Remove dead leaves accumulated among the branches. No spray or soil treatments are effective.