White Pine Needle Tip Blight

Frequent monitoring of plants by experienced and knowledgeable Certified Arborists is a key component to the success of our ActiveCare plant health care program. This is what enables most insect and disease problems to be identified early and enables us to effectivley manage problems. During ActiveCare scouting visits many Eastern White Pines in the greater Boston area exhibited browning needles on current seasonal growth. The damage has been has been widespread and found on both large mature trees and smaller specimens, commonly causing needle banding and early seaon needle shedding.

Tip blight, which is  not a new phenomenon, however this particular strain may be of a new variety and resulting in damage more widespread than previously seen.

Initially the damaged seemed consistent with injury related to the past year’s harsh winter, often exasturbated from the abundanace of road salt use. As we observed more trees in backyards and protected areas away from roadsides, our suspicions were raised.

Samples of damaged needles from various trees were collected for labortoary analysis. The browning damage and injury was infact caused by tip blight fungi. Tip blight, which is not a new phenomenon, however this particular strain may be of a new variety and resulting in damage more widespread than previously seen. Although general stress does play a role in the initial infection the primary culprit is needle tip blight.

The pathogens detected causes blight on current season's needles of eastern white pine, where older needles are unaffected, which is atypical of most needle cast fungi. Needle cast fungi produce large volumes of spores and are widespread in the environment and are impossible to eradicate.

Management of tip blight focuses on protecting the current year's foliage from becoming infected in the spring and early summer. Pruning of heavily diseased branches, especially those in the lower canopy, and removal of downed needles can help reduce disease pressure. Fungicides have some utility and applications are applied when new needles as developing, depending on the season and weather. Needle cast fungi often have prolonged periods before symptoms develop. Therefore, needles may be infected for many months before they become symptomatic.

If you are interested in the benefits and peace of mind ActiveCare provides, please contact one of BTSE’s Certified Arborist to discuss the value of this program for your property.