Arbor-Wellness: Conifer Needle Disease

A number of different fungi cause diseases on conifer needles. Some will cause a browning and dieback (blight) of needles and others premature needle drop (cast). These fungi are typically not aggressive and cause problems when trees are not healthy. This can come from stress due to not enough water or too much water or even other pests attacking the tree.

Trees are rarely killed for these diseases but they will continue to weaken the tree and make it more susceptible to other problems. Some conditions are temporary stresses, like a very wet winter, and the problem will clear up on its own. Other stresses like poor drainage, lingering drought stress or lack of water can allow the disease to progress to a point where treatment is required. Even though there are many different diseases that will affect needles of pine, fir, spruce and cedar trees, most are pretty host specific and that narrows the choice. Treatments are also fairly similar which makes the treatment type fairly straightforward.

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