Just for giggles, take a white piece of paper, hold it under an affected branch and shake it — the branch, not the paper. When the limb breaks, it won't peel off bark. The dead zone is all in the inner area of the tree, starting closest to the trunk. Cooperative Extension office in Anchorage, ‘It’s bad. That does not seem to be the case this year. In fact, it never went away. Here is another reason why I wish we still had our Cooperative Extension office in Anchorage. Then, of course, there is spruce bark beetle damage. One common needle disease in Minnesota, Rhizosphaera needle cast, is caused by the fungus Rhizosphaera kalkhoffii. Symptoms and Damage. And stressed trees are also more susceptible. First, most spruce trees will loose up to 10 percent of their needles annually. (Charles Wohlforth / Alaska Dispatch News). The Inner Needles Are Turning Brown on My Blue Spruce Diseases. Spruce trees can show brown needles starting from the lower limbs and progressing up the tree. Blue spruce varieties are very susceptible to Rhizosphaera. Several arborists suggest carefully removing bottom limbs up to as high as 6 feet or so. Finally, spruce aphid (Elatobium abietinum) has become a real problem, especially down Homer way, but it is moving up, I am sure. Unfortunately, I am not a pest scout, and even if I had the training, it is pretty hard to give an answer from an emailed photo. He's authored several books on organic gardening; his latest is "DIY Autoflowering Cannabis: A New Way To Grow." It’s really bad’: Anchorage nurses under pressure as COVID-19 pushes busy hospitals to the brink, ‘An absolute powerhouse’: Short film tells the incredible survival tale of Ada Blackjack, Tracking COVID-19 in Alaska: 2 deaths and 656 new cases reported Saturday, Police investigate death of 5-year-old boy in East Anchorage as homicide, Anchorage will return to a monthlong limited ‘hunker down’ in December. The needles won't grow back and the tree will look sparse. Why are my spruce trees turning brown and dying? (alaskabg.org/event). Let me help: If you think there is something wrong with one or more of your spruce, check out this guide from the state Department of Natural Resources at on.adn.com/2fDP4qD. There is nothing you can do about it. Trees planted close together in groups or close together in a tree line tend to especially be affected by this disease. The most likely listed in the internet literature is called Rhizosphaera needle cast. This means being extremely careful with weed-eaters, mowers and tractors. First, most spruce trees will loose up to 10 percent of their needles annually. Second, make sure air can circulate. Note that mite attacks impact the whole tree. So, since we don't have an Extension pest scout anymore, it's necessary for you to do a bit of research on your own so you can figure out what might be going on. Take a class on Sept. 25 at 12 p.m. and Sept. 29 at 8 p.m. "Bulbs for Beginners" at the Alaska Botanical Garden. It usually starts near the base of the tree and works its way up. This may sound silly, but many spruce trees have boughs to the ground. The webbing they create often holds detritus and you will notice it. In general, there are only a few things you can do to help your spruce trees. I have noticed a few things in general, however. Click here for a more extensive tree list. Lots of them. Right now, I am getting questions about spruce trees. © 2020 Anchorage Daily News. There really isn't much you can do in these parts in terms of spraying. It means giving your lawn water when we are in dry seasons. It's a great starting point. Reach him at jefflowenfels@gmail.com. They turn brown first. Symptoms of Rhizosphaera Needle Cast Disease. Mulching with a tree's own needles is always a must and not compacting soil around the roots is extremely useful. The problem in asking me is that there are all manner of reasons why a spruce tree would have needles turn brown, from sawflies and budworms to fungi, viruses, mites and bad weather. The careful way to remove limbs, incidentally, is to make a cut through the bark UNDER the limb first and then cut into this from the top. (alaskabg.org/event), Mushroom Walk: Sept. 28, 6-7:30 p.m. at the Alaska Botanical Garden. And if they are, an application of dormant oil this time of year should smother them. Photographed Sunday, May 15, 2016. The needles display neat rows of black dots. Spruce aphids have stripped needles from trees near Marian Beck’s Saltry Restaurant in Halibut Cove. If there is any Alaskan who is a climate denier, then they simply don't have their eyes open. Tree check: Most often, this fungus attacks spruce trees, especially Colorado blue spruce trees and Engelmann spruces. Leave a "collar," a bit of the limb, so that the tree can form a scar and heal the cut. All rights reserved. The increased incidents of these infestations is a direct result of warmer springs along with earlier and more frequent freeze-thaw cycles. It is baaaaack. Join Chitin Anderson and learn mushrooming. (Did you email the Regents?) There is nothing you can do about it. You can check for this fungus by looking at the needles with a magnifying glass. Jeff Lowenfels has written a weekly gardening column for the ADN for more than 40 years. They turn brown first. Free. Many people are complaining about losing only inner needles, so these trees probably have something else going on, most likely some form of fungi. Jeff's Alaska garden calendar for the week of Sept. 22, Bulbs: If you want spring flowering bulbs, now is the time. Affected tree trunks have a few characteristics: distinct borings where the insect entered the tree; sap flows where the tree tried to protect itself; dust at the trunk; and, ultimately, a dead tree. You should be able to collect mites if they are there. Price is $12-15 depending on membership. Next, spider mites can turn a blue spruce red, so to speak, but these usually come out when it's dry or when we have a drought. Spruces can suffer from Rhizosphaera Needle Cast, a fungal disease that causes needles on spruce trees to turn brown and drop, leaving bare branches. And, do not cut flush to the trunk. Then look for: This allows wind currents to get under and into the canopy. His columns won the 2020 gold medal at the Garden Communicators International conference. More specifically, yardeners are concerned about needles turning red and dropping off. However, it is easy to spot spider mites with a hand lens. Spruces can suffer from Rhizosphaera Needle Cast, a fungal disease that causes needles on spruce trees to turn brown and drop, leaving bare branches.