Red rust (spider) disease

Asked March 28, 2013, 2:42 PM EDT

I have a spruce in my front yard that is dying slowly. I need to know what is the disease and if the tree is downed how long before I can replant?

Jackson County Michigan trees and shrubs

1 Response

There are many factors that can lead to decline of a tree, many of them the result of environmental or human activities, which can weaken a tree and cause it to be susceptible to diseases and insects.

If the needles on the spruce are turning brown and falling off are on the inside of the tree, it may simply be normal needle drop. Although most conifers remain green year around, the needles on the interior do eventually drop. If the needles at the end of the branches are browning and dropping, there is a problem.

The extremely high temperatures and drought conditions of the past summer were especially stressful for spruces and other conifers. This can cause death of needles and eventually the entire branch. As a result of stress in 2012, further damage may appear in 2013.


You may wish to consult a certified arborist to determine the cause of your tree decline, to determine the best course of action. Help evaluating your tree and site will be beneficial for the future health of the current tree or a replacement.


The existing root structure must be removed if you wish to plant in the same area. According to the University of Illinois extension, it is recommended to plant a new tree at least three feet away from an existing stump.

http://web.extension.illinois.edu/askextension/thisQuestion.cfm?ThreadID=15340&catID=199&AskSiteID=87

Do remember before digging to remove the stump and root system of the old tree, call Miss Dig to locate any underground utility lines. Digging even the shallowest of holes can strike underground utility lines and cause a harmful or fatal accident.

An article from MSU about Spruce tree decline in Michigan may answer your question with more specifics:

http://msue.anr.msu.edu/news/spruce_tree_disease_symptoms_are_associated_with_fungal_pathogens_and_are_p
http://msue.anr.msu.edu/news/michigan_awash_with_phomopsis_cankers_on_spruce_trees_and_seedlings

Hope this helps…..