Dying pine trees

Asked April 19, 2019, 6:50 PM EDT

Can you tell me how to help my pine trees? The bottom branches are drying up, dropping needles & appear dead. The pictures are near a road but I also have one that isn't & the same thing is happening. This is in Mecosta county. There is no salt used on the roads in the winter.

Mecosta County Michigan

1 Response

Your pictures show blue spruce. Some of the branch dieback and needle loss can be caused by shade. Your trees are planted pretty close together. The other contributing factor might be what we have termed "spruce decline" The key symptom of spruce decline is branch dieback, which progresses over two to four years and renders the plant’s appearance unacceptable for most homeowners. The rapid decline of many spruce trees in Michigan and surrounding states appears to be related to an increase of canker diseases coupled with other disease and insect problems.

There are three principle types of diseases that affect blue spruce trees: needlecasts, tip blights and canker diseases.

We often see needlecast particularly when trees and planted close together. Needlecast diseases as the name implies shed needles. Needlecast fungi often infect needles on the current year’s shoots. As the disease progresses, the needles die, usually the year following the infection. As a result, trees affected by needlecasts often have an outer “shell” of live needles on current shoots and dead needles on older shoots. The two most common needlecasts we find in spruce are caused by the fungal pathogens Rhizosphaera and Stigmina/Mycosphaerella. Needlecasts can be managed by using fungicides. Fungicides that are available are preventative and curative. Fungicide applications will need to be applied 2-3 times a year for at least 2-3 consecutive years or more. If you decide to make a commitment to a fungicide program you should remove some of the trees to increase sunlight and air movement.

For more information on –

What is spruce decline? http://msue.anr.msu.edu/news/what_is_spruce_decline_and_what_should_you_do_about_it

Spruce Problems

https://web.extension.illinois.edu/plantclinic/downloads/Plant%20Clinic%20Report%20Spruce.pdf