Tops of My Pine Trees are Dying

WendyMay

WendyMay

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About half way through last summer, I noticed the beginnings of some browning on one of my prized Norway Spruce trees. I’ll admit that I was somewhat appalled because, after all, I planted these trees when they were just little babies and I’ve grown rather attached to each one of them. The thing is, the browning began at the top of the tree mid-way through the summer, but by the end of it, half of the tree was dead. The top half. Initially, I thought that I hit the tree with the lawnmower and perhaps damaged one of the roots beneath the soil. That would explain the slow demise of things, starting with the top. I actually transplanted the tree this spring and as I was doing that, I cut the dead part out. I haven’t thought about its situation since.

Funny thing happened yesterday. As I was walking by another one of my trees, I noticed some deadness about it. The leader (the new growth that sprouts from the tip of the tree) was curled and dead. It was brown and crispy and the needles were falling from it. I said to myself, “Now this is just too much of a coincidence. Two trees, same symptoms?” After this discovery, I rushed to the backyard where I thought I saw something similar occurring a few days ago. Low and behold, the top of one of my young White Pines was dying out in the same way. And then I saw another spruce…and another. Four trees in all had the same symptoms; the top leader of new growth was turning brown and dying. Mind you, I’ve got over 100 of these trees, so things haven’t turned too serious yet, but still.

I became concerned, so I looked the symptoms up on the internet. Apparently, this type of thing is quite common among Norway Spruces, White Pines, and a few other types of pines. The culprit appears to be what’s referred to as the White Pine Weevil. This is a small beetle type bug that, very early in the spring, drills tiny holes in the new growth of some pine species and lays eggs in those holes. The sap drips out of the openings and the babies, when hatched, feed on that. I think. The result of all this is a dead two years of growth on the tree. If you’re lucky. From what I’ve seen from my situation from last year, things get worse year over year.

Otherwise, I’ve been having an awesome year as it pertains to new growth on my Norway Spruces. Check it out.

norway-spruce-new-growth.jpg

norway-spruce-leader-new-growth.jpg

I’ve got about 30 inches just this year on some leaders. It’s been crazy with the rain. These trees like the water.

This is the tree I had to cut yesterday. The internet told me to begin the cut a few inches below where the damage begins. I did that. I also did that last year, but the damage continued to get worse. I have a feeling I’ll lose last year’s tree. This is this year’s.

cut-leader-norway-spruce.jpg

cut-young-pine-tree-leader.jpg

This is one of the branches that I cut from the first tree yesterday. Apparently, the tree begins dying at the top and then travels down to the branches.

dying-pine-tree-branch.jpg

Shepherd’s Crook​

When the leader begins dying, some folks refer to the result as a “shepherd’s crook.” Take a look at this. Here’s the damage from yesterday’s tree.

shepherds-crook-pine-tree-leader.jpg

shepherds-crook.jpg

Here are a few up close shots for you. The first shows some white dots, or fuzz, that I noticed yesterday.

white-dots-pine-leader.jpg

Here are two more photos. I can’t tell if there are little holes in the tree or not. The top shot appears to be okay, but the bottom one shows some damage.

healthy-leader.jpg

tiny-holes-leader.jpg

White Pine Weevil​

I cut some of the older tree out yesterday as well and the holes in that one were very noticeable. No doubt about what caused them. So now, I’ve got to buy some insecticide and treat these trees early in the spring, right around the time that this White Pine Weevil shows up. The last thing I want is more damage on my little baby trees. They say I need a chemical that contains bifenthrin, permethrin, or cyfluthrin. I’ll figure that out later on. For now, if you’re interested, you can take a look at a few resources I found on this topic.

https://www.canr.msu.edu/news/control_white_pine_weevil_in_early_spring


 
WendyMay

WendyMay

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2021 Update

I wanted to give a quick update about the beetle that kills the tops of Norway spruces and White pines. It’s a destructive little beetle, but it’s damage hasn’t been as bad as I thought it would be. A year and a day has passed since I wrote this initial post, so I thought I’d give some more information about what’s gone on the past year.

Okay, in the above post, I mentioned that I thought I was going to lose one of my entire trees that was attacked by the weevil. In fact, I didn’t lose the tree. What ended up happening was one of the side branches took the role of the top leader and the tree actually looks pretty good. As for the others, The four side branches have changed route and instead of growing out of and toward the sides, they’re now growing straight up, as the leader would have. What’s even better is that the trees don’t even show any damage. Unless someone knew pine trees and knew what they were looking at, I don’t think they would notice anything strange. And from what I hear, this weevil only eats trees that are on the smaller side. As mine grow larger and taller, they should outgrow this pest.

I also decided against buying the pesticide to deal with the bug. I forget why – perhaps I was being cheap or perhaps I didn’t care to invest the time in the trees. Who knows. But because of my laziness, about 10 more of my spruces and pines showed damage this year. Since I knew what I was dealing with, I went out with my clippers and chopped the damaged part right off. That seemed to stem the death and stop it from traveling down the trunk any farther than it needed to. So that’s what I think I’m going to do every year; I’ll simply watch for weevil damage and then head out with my clippers and remove the affected areas. These trees grow and heal themselves so fast that I actually don’t even think I’ll give things a second thought. I will tell you that I did see a few of the weevils on the tops of the trees this spring as I walked around the yard. They didn’t look identical to the ones in the videos though. Mine were black. When I saw one, I squeezed it in my fingers to get rid of it. Obviously I didn’t find them all because there was damage. Maybe I stopped a bit of that damage though.
 
Tops of My Pine Trees are Dying was posted on 08-26-2021 by WendyMay in the Outdoor Forum forum.

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