Spruce problem

Asked February 9, 2013, 3:04 PM EST

I have 3 spruces (not sure what variety but it is green rather than blue) in my landscape that were planted in 2008, about 15 feet apart. In 2011 I noticed that the one in the center looked a little yellow, but only on the south-facing side. I fertilized with iron and it improved, but temporarily. In 2012, it looked worse, with needles on the south-facing side brittle and some turning brownish as well as yellowing. I thought perhaps the drip irrigation on south side was clogged, so I dug it up and tested in spring 2012 and it was working fine. Now in 2013 the discoloration is becoming more widespread throughout the tree and the tree to the right of it now also looks slightly chlorotic. That could be just the effect of winter but I'm concerned that whatever is wrong with the center tree is spreading to the right one. I assume the center tree is probably a goner, but I'm trying to determine if some factor that is not host-specific is causing this damage, such that a replacement tree that is not a spruce would eventually die also. Not sure what to do. Any advice? Thank you.

Deschutes County Oregon forestry trees and shrubs plant disease tree health

1 Response

What kind of watering do your spruce get during the growing season and, if you know, how deep is your soil. What I'm referring to witht he soil question is whether your trees sit in or on top of rock. The symptons could also be related to watering (either too much or too little).

The only other thing that could be causing the off color could be spider mites. Perhaps if you could take some pictures and email them to me, that might help me figure out a diagnosis.

Another question, when the trees where planted did they come balled & burlaped or were they in a black tub? If they were balled & burlapped, was the cord holding the burlap on cut away from the tree after it was planted? If not, I've see trees (including spruce) die from slow "strangulation" as the tree grows and the cord gets tighter and tighter. You can check for this by digging down by the base of the trunk at or below the soil line.

Stephen Fitzgerald,
OSU Extension Service
phone: 541 548-6088