Needle Cast Disease and Needle Blight Diseases
Most of us are familiar with the spectacular drama of deciduous trees in autumn. These types of trees are known for their showy color displays that conjure images of bright fires, vibrant sunshine, and fireworks, before browning and shedding their leaves for the winter. But what about our conifers? If you are wondering whether the yellowing, browning, and needle drop from your conifer is normal, rest assured that in most cases, fall needle drop is a normal part of many conifers’ growth processes. However, because of the cold, wet Spring, needle cast and blight diseases are on the rise. If you are concerned about the browning and needle drop of our conifer tree, the best thing to do is to contact a local arborist tree care company, like Preservation Tree Care, for an evaluation.
What is needle cast and blight disease?
Needle cast and blight diseases are caused by over a dozen species of fungal spores that spread via wind and moisture. In the spring, spores from these species infect individual needles from the inside and later erupt through the needle as soot-colored, visible fruiting bodies that produce more spores. Infection leads to browning, the death of the tree, and the dropping of infected needles. Typically, it is Spring-infected needles that drop in fall, and as the fruiting bodies produce more spores, the disease spreads to new needles and even to new trees, starting the seasonal cycle over. Pronounced defoliation over time can lead to branch dieback, and eventually, tree death. Fortunately, catching and treating a needle cast and blight infection before it spreads too far can preserve your trees for many years to come! To stop the spread of needle-cast disease in your yard or neighborhood, contact a professional arborist in your area, like Preservation Tree Care, to help doctor your conifer tree back to health!
How do I know if my tree has needle-cast and blight disease?
If you suspect that needle cast disease may be causing unsightly browning and needle drop in your trees, seeking tree services from a tree care company employing a dedicated arborist is recommended. Diagnosing needle cast disease can be challenging because it mimics other common conifer issues such as ph and fertilizer imbalances, drought stress, and even frost, salt, or sun burn. Needle scale insects and spider mites can visually mimic the sooty black fruiting bodies of needle cast fungi while causing similar browning and defoliation. Misidentification of the root cause of browning and needle drop can lead to improper tree care plans, causing further damage to the tree.
Arborists can tell the difference between biotic infestations and abiotic damage in trees with abnormal needle drop and browning, but an ISA certified arborist, like those with Preservation Tree Care, are equipped to identify fungal disease and determine the best course of action to treat needle cast and blight infection, or any other tree infection. Accurate identification of the fungal species is critical in understanding its lifecycle and identifying which fungicide will work best. A board-certified master arborist can develop a tree care and treatment plan to target the identified fungus at optimal times during its life cycle, minimizing use of chemicals and maximizing effectiveness of treatment.
Can my tree be cured if it does have needle cast and blight disease?
Not exactly, but take heart! Technically, it is not your whole tree that is infected, but its individual needles. Needles already infected with needle cast spores cannot be saved. They will still brown and fall from the tree, even if proper treatment is introduced. The goal of targeted tree care and treatment is to prevent the spores on infected needles from spreading to new needles and to stop the spore’s lifecycle. Because spores go through dormant periods, multiple rounds of treatment are usually required in tree care regimens, even if needles appear normal. Eliminating the spores with an effective tree care plan will prevent new infection and stop further defoliation, giving your tree the best shot at a long and healthy life.
Can I treat and prevent needle cast and blight on my own?
The kind of routine tree care that will give your trees the best chance of avoiding needle cast and blight diseases can be time consuming and require specialized equipment and attention, so many seek tree services with maintenance plans to ensure that trees are in optimal health. However, people who like a hands-on approach can take conservative steps to reduce the chances of their trees becoming infected in the first place.
When choosing new conifer trees and shrubs, business and homeowners should buy from reputable nurseries and be sure to keep their selected trees healthy with proper maintenance. This includes pruning dense branches to encourage airflow and proper watering.
Though preventative measures can be done on your own, treatment of these complicated diseases is best left to professional arborists with an expert tree care company. An ISA certified arborist, like those with the team at Preservation Tree Care, may be the best line of defense when determining tree care and treatment plans due to their detailed knowledge of trees and their landscape. In addition, companies offering tree services and tree care are often better prepared to follow a consistent and effective tree care plan when dealing with needle cast and blight diseases. Tree care companies can usually complete tree services even when you are busy at work and they have the right equipment to safely complete tree care for tall trees. Routine spraying with fungicide, tree or shrub pruning, and tree removal may be a necessary part of your tree care and recovery plan. These tree care tasks can be dangerous to both people and property without proper training and equipment. Tree care companies can also safely dispose of infected plant matter for you, saving you a trip and reducing chances for future infection.
If you have noticed unusual browning or needle drop on your conifers this fall, take a closer look and call an arborist, tree care company, like Preservation Tree Care. Their team of highly trained arborists service Denver and surrounding cities and are there to help you with all your tree needle cast and blight issues. Needle cast and blight can be a pain, but with proper tree care and the right tree services, your conifers will thrive for years to come.