Sunday, October 14, 2012

Are your evergreens losing their needles?

If your evergreen trees are dropping needles like falling leaves, you are not alone!  Find out why your conifer trees may be losing their needles this fall.

10.) Your tree is a larch (tamarack) which is deciduous, it’s supposed to lose needles in the fall and grow new ones in the spring

9.) The needles that your evergreen tree is losing are 4 and 5 years old. Old needles are less productive than newer needles, so in the Fall most conifers shed old needles that aren’t contributing to the photosynthetic uptake of the tree.

8.) Your tree is THIRSTY. September was the driest Fall in 10 plus years. Although we had an overabundance of rain this spring, it didn’t carry over in the Fall. Conifer roots need moisture going into the winter, without it trees will drop the needles it can no longer support. Make sure to water your trees if you don’t have in ground irrigation.

7.) You planted your conifer tree <10 years old, covered the root ball with landscape fabric, put limestone rock mulch on top of the fabric and surrounded your tree with landscape edging. New planting sites are a harsh environment for trees to survive in. Compacted clay soil reduces the growth of new roots and landscape fabric prevents water and nutrients from getting to the root system of the tree. In addition, limestone rock holds heat that can damage roots and as water runs over the rock it raises the pH of the soil which limits the availability of nutrients to the already stressed roots of the tree. When a tree can’t support itself with its root system it will drop needles. Remove the rock, fabric and edging and add Prescription Organic Matter and mulch to the soil to help the roots survive and the tree to thrive.

Lirula needle cast

SNEED close up

Rhizosphera Needle Cast Spruce

6.) Your in-ground irrigation system has been hitting the branches of your tree, coveringthe needles of with water and creating a great environment for diseases like rhizospheara, sirrococcus, dothistroma, lirula and lophodermium needles casts . The only way to prevent the disease is to reduce the moisture contacting the needles and/or treating with preventative fungicide treatments next spring.

5.) Your tree has SNEED disorder (spruce needle drop disorder). While the cause of the disease is not yet understood, it is known that black hills spruce and Colorado blue spruce are susceptible to the disorder if they are stressed (drought, construction etc.). The best way to manage the problem is to improve the trees growing environment to enhance root health and use a preventative fungicide spray in the spring.

4.) You have damage due to herbicide injury from a new lawn care product, “Imprellis®“, that was pulled from the market this summer. Check with your lawn care provider to see if they used the product. If they did, you can have them submit a claim to compensate you for the damage to your tree. Most of the problems we observed this year were on Black Hills spruce and Colorado spruce although many other conifers were impacted by the product.

3.) Your tree received little to no supplemental watering during the last few years of dry weather. You may now be seeing your tree decline because two years of adequate rainfall cannot fix the damage caused by the years of drought. Bark beetle emergence holes indicate how much damage has been done. If you see holes (pin head size), plan on replacing the tree. If you don’t see the holes or if you see pitch/sap coming out of the holes, water your tree and spray it with a trunk insecticide next spring to control any bark beetles that may be attracted to it.

2.) You put a patio around the trunk of the tree, or did some other home remodeling/construction project that removed or damaged a majority of the root system of your tree. By removing or damaging tree roots, you remove it’s energy reserves that support everything above ground, you will lose needles and likely the whole tree.

1.) It was last year’s Christmas tree and you should have recycled it 10 months ago (LOL)

Still can’t figure it out? Give us a call and one of our certified arborists can stop by to help. 847-916-9069.  www.

Thanks for reading,

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