Pine tree diseases

We’ve had several pine trees succumb to disease and had to cut them down after an arborist told us it would be for the best.

Conifers respond differently to pests and disease than deciduous trees, so one method of diagnosis doesn’t fit all. Tchukki Andersen is a staff arborist for the Tree Care Industry Association. She says it’s important to know what kind of tree you have before treating it.

"If you’re in Nevada and you’re looking at a pinon pine, or if you’re in Florida and you’re looking at a long-leaf pine, what pine tree you’re looking at will depend perhaps on what disease will be invading it," says Andersen.

Some pines are more susceptible to fungus invasions. Pine Oak Gall Rust, for example, attacks hard pines like Scotch, pitch, loblolly and short leaf. The sad thing is that this type of fungus is spread by a host spore found on red and black oaks, so if you have a mix of these in your woodlot, there might be trouble. The gall, which is an abnormal growth on the tree, will cut off sap flow and kill the tree above the growth.

Other pines develop pine needle rust, a fungus spread by wild asters and goldenrods, which causes yellow spots on the needles followed by white blisters.

Depending on how far gone the tree is, Andersen says you might be able to save it.

"Remove some of the lower branches that funguses tend to invade first. They’re not going to grow back, but it’s possible that you might save the whole tree if you remove some of the diseased branches," she says. "Another method of cure is applying a fungicide to the tree in the spring. This is best done by professional tree care companies because they have the specialized equipment that puts a spray of fungicide to the very top of the tree."

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