Blue Spruce dropping needles

azr2dJune 19, 2007

My blue spruce is dropping needles in an isolated spot about half way up the tree - about 5' off the ground. The needles turn brown and then drop off the branch. Any clue as to what could be causing this and how to stop it? I've read about the fungal diseases that could cause needle shedding, but they seem to start at the base of the tree and work their way up - not what I have.

Thanks!

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conifers

If it were me and I didn't know what to do, I'd simply buy a combination fungaecide/insecticide and spray as directed early in the mornings or late in the evenings when the weather has cooled.

If things don't get better, you might be dealing with a root malfunction. It is possible a girdled-root has choked the chain of flow to that first branch that's showing distress. It's also possible and insect is feeding below. Again, I'd start with the combo.

Just don't use horticultural oil types as these will damage blue spruces.

Dax

    Bookmark   June 20, 2007 at 8:31AM
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spruceman

Well, I don't know much about diseases of blue spruce, but when I see a branch that seems to be dying on any tree I look to the place where the branch joins the trunk and see if there is some kind of canker or some other sign of diesase that may be getting into the trunk of the tree. If not, I cut the branch off before that can happen and dispose of it so the infection can't spread. I also examine adjacent branches for additional points of infection. I do this specifically with cytospora canker on Norway spruce, and white pine blister rust on white pine.

If it looks like the infection has gotten into the trunk of the tree, then you should do what you can to identify the disease--take a sample to the ag extension office or forest service, and then see what can be done.

If what you have is a general patch of foliage where there is needle loss, then you have to find out the cause and perhaps some spray can help.

But I am talking about my expereince with these kinds of problems in general. Here where I am in Winchester, VA I have not had to learn about diseases of blue spruce because I have not observed any.

--Spruce

    Bookmark   June 20, 2007 at 8:50AM
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azr2d

Thanks for the input! I did a close-up inspection of the tree yesterday and what did I find? Bagworms! Everywhere! After trolling the web to identify what the insects were I read that manual removal is preferable. Unfortunatley they are all over the de-needled area I originally noticed as well as another "hot - zone" on the back side of the tree about 15 ft up. What would you recommend to get rid of these insects? Is it something I can tackle myself (novice gardener in a new to me old house) or should I call a professional?
Thanks again!

    Bookmark   June 22, 2007 at 2:38PM
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spruceman

If you can find a way to pick them off, that may be best. Maybe a pole pruner could reach up high enough. You will have to to do this every year for a while. You could spray, but I don't know how to do that.

--Spruce

    Bookmark   June 22, 2007 at 8:41PM
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