My sick giant sequoia
Hi I live in Sutherlin Oregon, we have the most beautiful giant Sequoia in our front yard, we moved into this house three years ago and it is beautiful however this last summer 2016 we noticed that the top of the Sequoia was getting brown and yellow and orange. This was in July and as of this date October 2016 it looks like it has gotten travel down the truck down to the canopy also of the tree. We called the Oregon State University extension service in Roseburg Oregon and they indicated to me that it was from a drought that we had and it probably is from lack of watering,.however I don't feel that's the issue because the people before us and never watered a thing and we have timers now on everything the tree gets watered daily with A soaker hosefor 30 minutes. I expand around the trunk to plant other plants and added lots of good dirt. Our neighbor works in the woods daily and he thinks it might be a mop or a beetle or books however when I look at the trunk I do see some small holes but I don't see any bugs. I guess what I'm getting at is I think it might be cankers is there anything we can Do to save this beautiful tree? Any help would be very much appreciated. Thank you so much les and Irene
Douglas County Oregon
Thank you for your question. I can understand why the Extension Service in your area told you that your giant sequoia likely has drought-related damage. The past three summers have been very hot and dry, and we are observing tree mortality throughout the state (particularly with conifers, like your sequoia). In addition, the pattern of damage on the tree, brown needles at the top moving down the crown, is a very common symptom of water stress. But here is some good news: from my evaluation of the pictures you sent, it looks like the tree could bounce back. I only see older foliage with browning, and the foliage from this year is still green. Now that we are getting more rain, your tree may bounce back, so keep an eye on it. When the rain slows down in late spring, you may consider watering the tree so it has ample moisture during another potentially hot and dry summer. Make sure that you are watering effectively so that you avoid causing more damage (see attached document on watering).
To answer your questions about insects or disease, there is a chance that the water stress has made your tree more susceptible. But since it seems to be doing okay for now, I would recommend just keeping an eye on the tree over the winter. If it doesn't look good come late spring, look for signs of insects or discoloration of the bark for stem cankers. Take pictures and show them to your local Extension forester or post them here on Ask an Expert.
Also, if you'd like to read more about the patterns in tree mortality that we are seeing this year, check out this blog article.