Tree Talk: Browning evergreens

Farm Forum

Browning Spruce trees are a very common sight this season throughout the state. Many people are noticing browning needles and dieback on their spruce and other evergreen trees, including arborvitae and junipers. These trees are not as drought tolerant as one might think, especially in our heavy clay based soils. We first saw signs of declining evergreens after the warm and dry winter of 2011-2012, and then the 2012 growing season continued with drought like conditions. These stressed trees were further strained throughout the summer and are now showing signs of decline and dieback. The rain and moisture we are receiving now is good news to healthy looking trees. If we go back to dry conditions this summer, supplemental watering will be recommended when possible.

Evergreens were not the only trees showing decline due to past drought conditions. Maples have been hit hard as well. Dieback from the top down has been significant in many maples, especially hybrids such as Autumn Blaze maple. Trimming the dead parts out of the tree or removal of the tree are the only recommended treatments.

For those of you that have hackberry trees, they are suffering from leaf tatter this spring which gives their leaves a tattered, sickly appearance. These leaves were most likely damaged in the bud stage by a late spring frost. The trees should recover throughout the summer with no ill long term effects.

Please contact me for additional information or questions at or 626-7015.