Brown Spruce needles

Asked October 16, 2018, 9:34 AM EDT

I purchased a home that is surrounded by several variety of Spruce trees that are at least 22 years old. I noticed that on some of the trees the needles are turning brown on the inside. The previous owner drove by and said he had not had that before. I'm concerned. Is this a normal process?

Scott County Minnesota spruce trees spruce tree needle drop

1 Response

There are many reasons for spruce trees turning brown. It is normal for a certain percentage of needles to dry and fall off about this time of the year. It is analogous to leaves dropping from other trees. The following publication will describe this:

https://www.ag.ndsu.edu/horticulture/normal-fall-needle-drop-in-conifers

If by chance one of more of your trees are Colorado Blue Spruce, be advised that this variety is not recommended for growth in Minnesota as it is not well suited for our environment. However the pictures you sent did not appear to depict a blue spruce.

Besides normal spruce browning in the fall, there are various fungal diseases that can also lead to needle browning. One of the more common is Rhizosphaera needle cast. These publications will describe this and other spruce diseases:

https://extension.umn.edu/plant-diseases/rhizosphaera-needle-cast

https://files.dnr.state.mn.us/assistance/backyard/treecare/forest_health/whitesprucediagnosis.pdf

With respect to remedial action, the best course of action would be to enlist the opinion of a certified professional arborist. This University of Minnesota publication will describe the steps involved in identifying such an individual:

https://extension.umn.edu/planting-and-growing-guides/how-hire-tree-care-professional

Good Luck!!