spruce needles turning brown from center

Asked April 30, 2019, 4:47 PM EDT

We have a spruce tree, about 25ft tall, with needles turning brown from the center (trunk). From what I've read, this should only happen in the fall if at all (Voyle 2014). We have had the tree sprayed for mites in the past, but I've gone out with a white piece of cardboard, lifted up a branch and stuck the cardboard underneath; to try get anything to drop. I took a magnifying glass-- nothing.

I've attached a photo to help you determine what's going on.

Livingston County Michigan browning needles spruce tree diseases

2 Responses

We can't diagnose positively from photographs but this appears to be a classic case of needlecast disease. Interior needles have dropped and new growth comes in fine at branch tips. If not interrupted with a fungicide, the new needles become infected and will fall off next year. The process continues the same way year after year unless sprayed with a fungicide at the correct time to break the cycle. Understand that fungicides do not cure. They will stop progression of the disease
but do not cure. Spraying would be needed for the following year or two and possibly longer, but timing is important to spray in spring at budbreak. The interior needles that have fallen will not grow back so the tree will look worse each year without treatment. You can read more here:
https://www.canr.msu.edu/news/management_of_douglas_fir_and_colorado_blue_spruce_needle_cast_diseases

Suggestion is to involve a Certified Arborist,one who specializes in everything woody. You can find one or more Certified Arborists in your zip code at www.treesaregood.com Click on the Find an Arborist tab. Arborist evaluations are not expensive and where you can get a positive diagnosis and decide how to go forward based on professional information.

Good luck!

Thank you for your reply. I applied a fungicide. I believe the tree has improved. I will continue to monitor them.