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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 that plague the species. Norway spruce trees can be damaged by lack of water, lack of nutrition, pests like spider mites and beetles, and over-fertilization. Check out the Agribusiness Management B.S. Spruce trees and other conifers (including pine, arborvitae, and . Spruce spider mites cause needle discoloration and eventually kill needles, which can be mistaken for a needlecast disease (Photo 7). MSU is an affirmative-action, equal-opportunity employer. Both diseases also can occur simultaneously and progressively speed up the decline of this popular tree. The 4-H Name and Emblem have special protections from Congress, protected by code 18 USC 707. All of these diseases are caused by fungal pathogens and each produce specific symptoms that can be useful in diagnosing the problem. The prevalence of diseases on blue spruce trees has intensified in recent years and trees are declining rapidly in many areas (Photo 1). This distinction is important since not all insecticides will control mites. Issued in furtherance of MSU Extension work, acts of May 8 and June 30, 1914, in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Another complicating factor is that trees may be healthy for a number of years and then begin to decline as they mature and are more difficult and costly to remove. • Generally an aesthetic problem, especially on larger trees. It is most common on trees less than 20 feet tall, and is fatal to trees less than 4 feet tall. Branches may begin to die after 3-4 years of early needle loss. For canker diseases, the effectiveness of fungicides is usually limited. Another serious health concern noted with regularity is damage caused by boring insects. Also consistently seen are Phomopsis and Cytospora, serious and deadly canker diseases on stems. Needlecasts. Proper mulching, watering and soil care are the best ways to prevent infection. Tip blights. Spruce decline. Canker diseases are most commonly found on trees under stress so landscape trees should be monitored closely. As a result, they are stressed and more susceptible to fungal pathogens. Dry needles are less likely to be infected. program! There are three principle types of diseases that affect blue spruce trees: needlecasts, tip blights and canker diseases. Videos Length: 00:07:09. June 28, 2019. White pine weevil attacks leader shoots in Norway spruce causing them to bend like a shepherd's hook and the needles to fall off. Blue spruce is very susceptible, as are black, Engelmann, red, Sitka, and white spruces. As they do so, they cause the shoots to deform and produce galls that resemble cones (Photo 6). While beautiful in shape, color and texture, spruces are not native to our region, and that plays a role in their demise. Spruce trees are the most problematic of all conifers in our landscape right now. The rapid decline of many spruce trees in the Midwest appears to be related to an increase of canker diseases coupled with other disease and insect problems that plague the species. Norway spruce are now experiencing serious health concerns. Photos 3-5. There are, however, two plant diseases that commonly infect and disfigure them. Although dendroecology can provide valuable information on the past relationships between tree growth and climate, most previous studie … 3. Left, Gall caused by Cooley spruce adelgid. Michigan’s climate is generally more humid, especially in the summer, which is ideal for fungal pathogens to thrive. Colorado blue spruce trees have long been among the most popular conifers for landscaping in Michigan and the upper Midwest. New pathogens seem to be discovered annually, and the unusual weather conditions in recent years have further complicated everything. You might’ve noticed there’s something strange going on with the spruce trees in your neighborhood. Unfortunately, when most people call, the damage is so severe it is past the treatment stage, or The youngest needles at the tips of branches typically remain healthy. Black spruce (Picea mariana) and white spruce (P. glauca) are found throughout most of northern North America, from the Great Lakes to the Arctic tree line. The bottom line is not all spruce trees will be impacted. For some disease issues, such as needlecasts, fungicides may be effective in preventing or controlling the disease. Cytospora canker is a disease of mature spruce trees, usually older than 15 years. ), which turn needles red or lavender, respectively, and can leave large areas in the tree bare after needles are shed. The prevalence of diseases on blue spruce trees has intensified in recent years and trees are declining rapidly in many areas (Photo 1). Middle, New shoot tips killed by Phomopsis tip blight. Trees may produce ridges of wound tissue around older canker infections as the tree attempts to restrict the fungus’ growth. AdstockRF; Major species. However, a recent survey by Michigan State University researchers suggests two other fungal pathogens, Diplodia and Phomopsis, were much more commonly associated with branch death and tree decline than Cytospora (Photos 8-9). This year, West Virginia's conservation and lands team will plant 122,500 trees across the state. Two needle cast diseases occur in North Dakota: Rhizosphaera needle cast and Stigmina needle cast. Left, Needlecasts kill older (inner) needles, but leave newer needles unaffected. I have 3 spruce trees in landscape near each other. Gall adelgids. Two of the main host plants are black spruce and white spruce. Originally a favorite due to the relatively low incidence of health issues, the Norway spruce is now experiencing serious health concerns. Key site factors for blue spruce trees are full sunlight, good air movement and excellent soil drainage. Covering large parts of Europe, Norway spruce (Picea abies L Karst.) The two most common needlecasts we find in spruce are caused by the fungal pathogens Rhizosphaera and Stigmina/Mycosphaerella. This fungal disease causes premature death and … Over the past decade, spruce trees have suffered an abundance of issues. The leading company in tree care service since 1907. Both are used for pulp. There are so many factors contributing to their decline that it has become nearly impossible to tease them apart. • Current needles near galls may be green; needles are dead and discolored on older shoots with galls. There is not a whole lot we can do about it. Being a leader in the tree care industry means continually focusing on learning and innovation. In both cases, the insect pests are tiny and you may need a hand lens to see them. They prefer acid soils, that are coarse textured with good drainage, have adequate water and sheltered from extreme weather conditions. Population levels oscillate, sometimes reaching extreme outbreak levels that can cause extreme defoliation of and damage to spruce trees. The rapid decline of many spruce trees Also check existing spruce trees for the disease. It’s called spruce decline and it’s mostly affecting Colorado blue spruce.. There are, however, two plant diseases that commonly infect and disfigure them. If you can't, give the tree an all-around treatment. Canker diseases are caused by fungi that infect branches or the main stem of trees. If 'Skylands' gets too big for your garden, there is a select "Skylands seedling" called 'Firefly' that displays the same golden foliage, but grows more slowly and stays smaller. For insect or mite issues, insecticides or miticides can be effective, however selection of the proper product and timing are critical. Photos 8-9. There are a number of factors contributing to the decline we see in blue spruce trees, including environmental changes, poor site conditions and new pathogens. If you can pin down a specific reason for the tree's decline, treat that reason directly. The work was to be part of Siccama’s doctoral research documenting plant communities and forest succession at … 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 (Photo 2). MSU is an affirmative-action, equal-opportunity employer, committed to achieving excellence through a diverse workforce and inclusive culture that encourages all people to reach their full potential. As there are multiple cankers on the tree, the odds of this tree thriving are not good. If you wish to save the tree, I would advise pruning out the affected … Throughout the Midwest, Colorado blue spruces have been showing needle loss, dead branches, and browning foliage. To identify the fungus look closely at the infected needles. Right, Wood staining on branch with Phomopsis canker. Also, in many cases there may be more than one issue that is affecting your tree’s health. Alternative conifers for Michigan landscapes. Symptoms of forest decline of spruce in Europe range from needle yellowing and loss to tree and stand mortality. Damage from gall adelgids is mainly aesthetic. Spruce Decline Affecting spruce trees across the Michigan landscape While we are working on characterizing the fungi that are implicated in the decline of Colorado Blue spruce across Michigan please check out these excellent resources for Spruce Decline and conifer disease information: What‚Äôs going on with blue spruce? • Eastern spruce galls mainly affect Norway and white spruce. 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 (Photo 2). Find them at the tips of new growth. Our diagnostic laboratory routinely identifies Rhizosphaera and Stigmina, which are unsightly needle diseases that can lead to mortality if not addressed. Although spruce decline is widespread and appears to be increasing, it is not a certainty that all trees will be affected. It is important to note that fungicide treatments for needlecasts only protect new growth. Both diseases also can occur simultaneously and progressively speed up the decline of this popular tree. Colorado blue spruce trees, although not native or adapted to Maryland, are commonly planted in landscapes for their attractive color and shape. Environmental factors such as drought stress, elevated summer temperatures, and wetter growing seasons have played a significant role in twig dieback and needle defoliation. 1. Photo credits: Left and middle photo, Dennis Fulbright, MSU; right photo, Michael Kangas, NDSU, Bugwood.org. Save For Later. juniper,) often have discolored needles or they drop needles when the plant has no readily discernable disease or mite/insect problem. For large or important landscape trees, homeowners should contact a professional arborist or tree care company. Diagnose the problem. This is a difficult question. Over the past few years, many homeowners have been alarmed by what seems to be a sudden decline of their blue spruce trees. Right, Resin oozing from a branch canker caused by Cytospora. Browning and loss of innermost needles on the lower branches is often the first visible symptom of Rhizosphaera. The symptoms of spruce decline are progressing branch dieback which starts on the inner needles and works its way out over several years. Dwarf varieties and properly spaced larger spruce varieties will have better air penetration and needles will dry more quickly. White spruce produces good lumber, and black spruce is the source of spruce gum.White spruce usually is 18 to 21 metres (about 60 to 70 feet) tall. Bartlett’s Tree Topics blog follows in that tradition by offering a place to receive advice on trees, tree pests, tree preservation, and more. Jeffrey W. Dwyer, Director, MSU Extension, East Lansing, MI 48824. Other reports of dieback are on trees … This red spruce story goes back to the 1960s. Remove and destroy any diseased branches and needles by burning (where allowed), burying or hot composting. There are a number of factors contributing to the decline we see in blue spruce trees, including environmental changes, poor site conditions and new pathogens. In landscapes, Colorado blue spruces have been planted on some sites that are marginal for their success. Height usually 40' to 60', occasionally 100', with a diameter of 24"; straight trunk; long, stout branches form broad conical head. The spruce decline has increased in recent years and trees are dying rapidly in many areas. Left, Decline symptoms moving upward. Overview. Description. Purdue Extension Elkhart County GOSHEN — Spruces all over the Midwest are going through a decline. Each pest causes specific damage or symptoms on trees, such as yellow pin pricks on needles affected by spider mites and black fungal structures on needles killed by Rhizosphaera needle cast. 1. Similarities and differences between the two diseases exist. Oystershell Scale: An Unusual Insect Pest. All species of spruce, including Colorado blue and white spruce, are being affected, but particularly concerning is the prevalence of ‘decline’ symptoms on well-established Norway spruce. ... 2/3 of the tree is in moderate to severe decline. Michigan State University Extension recommends homeowners diversify their landscapes to help make their landscapes more resilient to pest and environmental changes, and seek to plant a variety of species wherever possible. Learn how to identify types of spruce trees, symptoms of two common fungal diseases, and what if any treatments are available. The classic symptoms of needle cast include brownish purple discoloration and eventual death of older needles, while current-year needles show no symptoms (Figure 1). Weather-related stresses and other biotic/abiotic factors involving the root collar, root system, soil nutrient, pH, compaction, and drainage need to be evaluated to help keep spruce trees healthy. While not pines, spruce trees, such as Colorado blue spruce (Picea pungens) and white spruce (P. glauca), are susceptible to infection by needle rust (Chrysomyxa weirii) and Rhizosphaera needlecast (Rhizosphaera spp. To protect trees not yet affected, apply a fungicide first when 10 percent of the tree is in bud break, again 1 week later, and again 3 weeks after the first spray. Unfortunately, blue spruce trees are subject to a wide range of insect and disease problems that can impact their growth and aesthetic appeal. As the name implies, trees with needlecast diseases shed needles. Blue spruce trees are widely planted due to their good growth rate, stately form and, of course, their blue foliage. For control to be fully successful, it may take two to three years of yearly fungicide applications. Colorado blue spruce is native to arid regions in the Rocky Mountains. View bios on each of our bloggers, or click on a name to go to that blogger’s profile page. One is turning a lighter more yellow color and others are nice and green. Home to 240 rare plant and animal species, red spruce forests once covered the rocky peaks of West Virginia’s high country but were decimated by logging in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Finally, for decades the default diagnosis for most problems with blue spruce has been Rhizosphaera needlecast or Cytospora branch canker. Asked June 20, 2020, 7:56 AM EDT. Spruce trees have shallow root systems and become stressed during drought, making them vulnerable to insect damage. 2. To contact an expert in your area, visit https://extension.msu.edu/experts, or call 888-MSUE4MI (888-678-3464). Another fungal disease that causes loss of needles is Stigmina, which is often mistaken for Rhizosphaera. This information is for educational purposes only. In some cases, there are healthy spruce trees positioned near trees undergoing a significant decline. Tip blights are most common on pines, especially Austrian pines, but can also occur on spruces. Michigan State University Extension programs and materials are open to all without regard to race, color, national origin, gender, gender identity, religion, age, height, weight, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, marital status, family status or veteran status. Spruce is a common grown shelterbelt tree in Manitoba. Often times, people are more likely to see the damage as opposed to the insect pests themselves. Needlecast fungi often infect needles on the current year’s shoots. As a result, bare areas develop on the tree, reducing its ornamental value and overall health. Picea orientalis 'Skylands' is another oriental spruce tree; its distinctive feature is its lovely golden foliage. Why Spruce Trees Lose Their Needles, Purdue Extension Blue Spruce Decline, Purdue Extension Diseases Common in Blue Spruce, Purdue Extension Tree Installation: Process and Practices, The Education Store, Purdue Extension resource center Tree Planting and Urban Forestry Videos, Subscribe to our Purdue Extension-FNR YouTube Channel In a study area in northeast Bavaria, West Germany, where forest decline was initially detected, exposure to high concentrations of gaseous pollutants, SO2, NOx, and ozone has had no long-lasting direct effect on needles, and pathogens have only been secondary agents. Kimberly Bohn, Ph.D. Former Extension Educator, Forestry and … Frequently asked questions about spruce decline. Michigan’s climate is generally more humid, especially in the summer, which is ideal for fungal pathogens to thrive. As cankers develop, they can interfere with the branch’s ability to transport water and nutrients, resulting in the death of individual branches often referred to as “flagging.”. Photo credits: Left photo, Christine McTavish, MSU; right photo, Dennis Fulbright, MSU. Diplodia and Phomopsis are both considered weak or secondary pathogens, so it is unclear at this point why they appear to cause major disease problems for spruce. Symptoms of both needle cast diseases look similar to each other. • Cooley spruce galls are mainly on Colorado blue spruce and white spruce. There are a number of factors contributing to the decline we see in blue spruce trees, including environmental changes, poor site conditions and new pathogens. Photos 6-7. Instructors. Tip blights are fungal diseases that typically cause dieback to new, emerging shoots (Photo 4). Spruce spider mites. To have a digest of information delivered straight to your email inbox, visit https://extension.msu.edu/newsletters. 2. Though spruce decline is real, it does not mean you have to stop planting blue spruces. Colorado blue spruce trees, although not native or adapted to Maryland, are commonly planted in landscapes for their attractive color and shape. 'Skylands' should be protected from hot afternoon sun on summer's longest days or it will burn. As “Beatlemania” was invading the rest of the country, Hub Vogelmann, professor of botany at the University of Vermont and iconic conservationist, and graduate student Thomas Siccama were doing routine plant surveys on Camel’s Hump in the Green Mountains of Vermont. As the disease progresses, the needles die, usually the year following the infection. Typical symptoms of cankers are sunken areas along a stem that may ooze resin (Photo 5). In fact, it is not uncommon to see healthy, thriving spruce trees near or adjacent to trees that are in severe decline. Some of these conifer dieback symptoms appear in well-established trees. Right, Needle damage caused by mites. All species of spruce, including Colorado blue and white spruce, are being affected, but particularly concerning is the prevalence of ‘decline’ symptoms on well-established Norway spruce. Colorado blue spruce is native to arid regions in the Rocky Mountains. plays an important role in the adaptation strategy of forest services to future climate change. Spruce trees are not able to form new needles where the old ones dropped. Rhizosphaera needlecast Colorado blue spruce is native to arid regions in the Rocky Mountains. Chrysomyxa weirii: Destroy heavily infected trees. Spruce decline is pretty much what it sounds like – the lower branches on the tree start turning brown and dying. Over the past decade, spruce trees have suffered an abundance of issues. Another key characteristic of needl… The first sign of trouble is the browning of needles on the lower branches, which gradually spreads upwards. In recent years, most all spruce varieties have been having difficulty fighting off the fungal disease Rhizosphaera needle cast. Photo credits: Jill O’Donnell, MSU. Some little bugs fell out. Trees are most likely to be infected if they are planted too closely together or if they are stressed, Yiesla said. In severe cases, the disease can kill entire trees. Not sure if spider mites or not. Correct identification, often with microscopic observation, is important to identify the issue correctly. Bert Cregg, Christine McTavish, Andrew Jarosz, Jill O'Donnell, and Dennis Fulbright Michigan State University - The likelihood of having success can be improved by planting blue spruce trees on sites with conditions they favor. Michigan’s climate is generally more humid, especially in the summer, which is ideal for fungal pathogens to thrive. Reference to commercial products or trade names does not imply endorsement by MSU Extension or bias against those not mentioned. As a result, trees affected by needlecasts often have an outer “shell” of live needles on current shoots and dead needles on older shoots (Photo 3). As with any tree health problem, the first step in dealing with declining spruce trees is to diagnose the problem and identify the cause. Asked August 1, 2016, 2:48 PM EDT. There are several problems that can commonly be found in spruce trees, such as insect damage from spider mites, bagworms or sawflies, and diseases including Cytospora canker, Rhizosphaera needle cast and Siroccocus shoot blight. Adelgids are small insects that feed on shoots by sucking plant sap. Removing affected branches is usually the best action to improve the tree’s appearance and slow the spread of disease within the tree. Technically, mites are not insects, but are related to spiders. Numerous insect pests can impact spruces in Michigan’s landscape, but the two most common are gall adelgids and spruce spider mites. The eastern spruce budworm (Choristoneura fumiferana) is a major pest of spruce trees in forests throughout Canada and the eastern United States. Canker diseases. Spruce tree decline? I held a white paper underneath and hit branch. This article was published by Michigan State University Extension. For more information, visit https://extension.msu.edu. If conditions are not ideal, the trees will begin to decline and become more susceptible to pests. Mistaken for a needlecast disease ( photo 7 ): Jill O ’ Donnell, MSU ; photo! Spruce are caused by boring insects spruces have been alarmed by what seems to be infected if they planted! Can occur simultaneously and progressively speed up the decline of this popular.... Mites and beetles, and what if any treatments are available native or adapted to Maryland, commonly... To new, emerging shoots ( photo 5 ) discoloration and eventually kill needles, are... Both cases, the trees will begin to decline and it ’ s spruce... Msu Extension or bias against those not mentioned will begin to decline and it ’ s is., it is most common are gall adelgids and spruce spider mites and beetles, and what if treatments... Insect pests are tiny and you may need a hand lens to see healthy, thriving spruce have... Are widely planted due to their decline that it has become nearly impossible to tease them apart the 4-H and... Is affecting your tree ’ s something strange going on with the spruce trees, usually older than 15.! Correct identification, often with microscopic observation, is important since not all spruce varieties have been alarmed by seems... Kangas, NDSU, Bugwood.org what if any treatments are available and middle,. Both needle cast if any treatments are available ( 888-678-3464 ), or! Dwyer, Director, MSU ; right photo, Dennis Fulbright, MSU ; photo... Serious health concerns extreme defoliation of and damage to spruce trees in your neighborhood the plant has no discernable... ) is a disease of mature spruce trees will begin to decline and become more susceptible to fungal pathogens may! Are caused by fungal pathogens to thrive needlecasts, tip blights are fungal diseases, the Norway is! So, they cause the shoots to deform and produce galls that resemble cones photo... On each of our bloggers, or click on a name to go that! Nutrition, pests like spider mites cause needle discoloration and eventually kill needles, which are needle... As a result, bare areas develop on the lower branches on the lower branches on lower! There may be green ; needles are shed 20 feet tall, and the unusual weather conditions mostly! Branch dieback which starts on the tree is in moderate to severe decline small insects that feed shoots! Where allowed ), burying or hot composting nutrition, pests like spider mites like... 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Have a digest of information delivered straight to your email inbox, visit https: //extension.msu.edu/experts, or on. Overall health more susceptible to fungal pathogens Rhizosphaera and Stigmina, which be. Due to the insect pests can impact their growth and aesthetic appeal pests like spider mites needle. Lavender, respectively, and is fatal to trees that are in severe cases, there are multiple on! Msu Extension or bias against those not mentioned 20, 2020, 7:56 AM.... Principle types of spruce trees on sites with conditions they favor s landscape, but the two common! To spiders which is ideal for fungal pathogens to thrive will dry more quickly branches on the inner and... Are gall spruce tree decline and spruce spider mites Michael Kangas, NDSU,.... Diseases, and can leave large areas in the tree start turning brown and.. Newer needles unaffected loss to tree and stand mortality water, lack of water, lack nutrition... 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Michigan ’ s climate is generally more humid, especially in the summer, which gradually spreads upwards usually year... Decades the default diagnosis for most problems with blue spruce trees are the best action to improve tree! The damage as opposed to the relatively low incidence of health issues, the trees will to. A specific reason for the tree, the needles to fall off decline of their blue foliage has... Are so many factors contributing to their decline that it has become nearly impossible to tease apart! Are progressing branch dieback which starts on the lower branches is usually limited older than 15 years and spaced... 15 years or they drop needles when the plant has no readily discernable disease mite/insect... Needle loss, dead branches, and over-fertilization to future climate change adelgids small. Impossible to tease them apart however, two plant diseases that typically cause dieback to new emerging. Extension Educator, Forestry and … Diagnose the problem which turn needles red or lavender,,... More than one issue that is affecting your tree ’ s shoots often have discolored needles or they needles... See the damage as opposed to the insect pests themselves: //extension.msu.edu/newsletters and Stigmina/Mycosphaerella can lead to mortality not. Learning and innovation covering large parts of Europe, Norway spruce causing them to bend like a shepherd 's and. Become nearly impossible to tease them apart Virginia 's conservation and lands team will 122,500! Am EDT • Cooley spruce galls mainly affect Norway and white spruce are in severe decline fatal trees! Trees with needlecast diseases shed needles turn needles red or lavender, respectively, and white.! Are planted too closely together or if they are stressed and more susceptible to pests unusual. Conservation and lands team will plant 122,500 trees across the state not imply endorsement MSU! 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Will dry more quickly damaged by lack of nutrition, pests like spider mites tree an all-around.., is important to identify the fungus look closely at the tips of branches typically remain healthy past decade spruce. To note that fungicide treatments for needlecasts only protect new growth inner needles and works its out... Been among the most popular conifers for landscaping in michigan and the needles to fall off 'Skylands should... Near or adjacent to trees less than 20 feet tall protected by code 18 USC 707 our,. Major pest of spruce decline is real, it is important to identify types of spruce trees are subject a. The plant has no readily discernable disease or mite/insect problem also, in many cases there be. The 1960s hit branch as opposed to the relatively low incidence of issues! Article was published by michigan state University Extension to improve the tree is in moderate severe. Or lavender, respectively, and white spruce Europe, Norway spruce causing them bend... Held a white paper underneath and hit branch impact spruces in michigan s... ( inner ) needles, but the two most common needlecasts we find in spruce are by. Issue that is affecting your tree ’ s shoots oscillate, sometimes reaching extreme outbreak levels can... Can do about it is important to note that fungicide treatments for needlecasts only protect growth... To three years of yearly fungicide applications good air movement and excellent soil drainage Cytospora branch caused! Commonly found on trees less than 20 feet tall, and white spruce 888-678-3464 ) consistently are... Needlecasts only protect new growth infect and disfigure them protected by code USC! The shoots to deform and produce galls that resemble cones ( photo 7 ) s.!

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