Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Blue Spruce Decline

In recent years, we have been noticing that blue spruce decline is becoming more widespread and appears to be increasing in this area. 

Photo 1. Declining spruce trees. Photo credit: Bert Cregg, MSU
Declining spruce trees. Photo credit: Bert Cregg, MSU

Blue spruces are prone to a wide variety of insect and disease issues and we have seen an increase in diseases affecting blue spruces in the past few years. One of the most obvious symptoms of spruce decline is branch dieback, which can progress pretty rapidly over just a two to four year period. 

There are three main types of diseases that affect blue spruce trees: 

1. Needlecasts - Needlecast diseases cause spruce trees to shed needles. These diseases are caused by fungi that often infect the current year's needles. As the disease progress, the infected needles normally die within a year of infection. 

2. Tip Blights - Tip blights are fungal diseases that affect new, emerging shoots. 

3. Canker Diseases - Canker diseases affect the branches or main stem of the tree. One typical symptom of canker diseases are sunken spots along the stem that ooze resin. Canker diseases can interfere with the branch's ability to transport water and nutrients, which can result in death of individual branches. 

There are also some common pests that can cause spruce decline, including Gall adelgids and spruce spider mites. 

The best way to care for your spruce trees is to give them the proper care before you notice problems. This includes proper watering practices, feeding, and necessary preventative treatments. Each week, or as often as possible, you should take a walk around your property and look for any signs of distress on your plants. It is much easier (and more cost effective) to prevent issues than to correct after they've already become a problem. In some cases, once you start to notice visible decline, there isn't much that can be done. 

Deep-root feeding can provide your spruces, and other trees and shrubs, with the necessary nutrients to keep them strong and healthy. Healthy trees are going to more easily be able to fend off diseases and other pests that could impact them and show less damage even in the presence of pests. 

If, however, you are seeing issues with your spruce trees or any other plant material, it may not be too late. Fungicide applications can help with certain fungal diseases, deep-root feeding can help the plant to recover, and other treatments may be possible for other issues. 

The first step to saving your trees and shrubs that are showing signs of stress is to diagnose the problem. Our tree and shrub expert can help with that! Next, he'll help to design a plan of attack using an integrated pest management approach and provide you with a detailed schedule of necessary and recommended treatments, both curative and preventative.  

Call us today to set up a tree and shrub consultation with an expert with almost 30 years of experience!
(734) 699-0010

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