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What's Wrong With Your Pine Tree?

Pine Branch
Pine trees are incredibly prevalent in North Carolina. In fact, in 1963, the pine became the official state tree. Loblolly, shortleaf, eastern white, and longleaf pines are all popular, and they add year-round greenery to your landscape. But what if your pine tree is looking a bit worse for wear? How can you tell what's wrong? Keep reading for a look at some of the most common ailments to affect pine trees.
Pine Bark Beetles
Your ailing pine tree may not, in fact be diseased - it could instead be affected by pine bark beetles. These reddish brown, winged beetles attack all species of pines, but they especially like shortleaf, loblolly, and Virginia pines, all of which are common in North Carolina. 
The following are signs of a pine bark beetle infestation:
  • White or red-brown spots of pitch appear on the outside of the bark.
  • Needles turn rust-brown, beginning at the top of the tree and traveling down.
  • Woodpeckers begin pecking at the tree in search of beetles.
  • Holes created by beetles are apparent if you remove the outer bark.
If you catch an infestation early, spraying the tree with insecticides may kill the beetles and save the tree. However, if the infestation is too far along by the time you detect it, the pine tree will likely die as a result of the beetle damage.
Dothistroma Needle Blight
Dothistroma needle blight is a fungal disease that affects the needles of pine trees. First, the needles develop dark green spots. These spots turn yellow, then brown, and then they expand to form rings around the needles. Eventually, you may see tiny black spots at the tips of the needles; these are fungal spores.
Dothistroma needle blight is treatable. Have your tree sprayed with a copper-based fungicide in early June and again a month later. Treat the tree regularly over the following years, and the number of affected needles should slowly decrease.
Pine Oak Gall Rust
As the name suggests, this condition can affect both pine and oak trees. In fact, the disease life cycle requires both an oak and a pine tree, so your pine tree is more likely to develop the disease if oaks are in the area. 
Spores are released from an infected oak tree; they settle on a pine tree's needles, move into the needles, and eventually migrate into the tree's branches. Here, the fungi replicate and form a round mass, called a gall. The gall weakens the branch, making it brittle. The gall may also affect the flow of water and nutrients to the needles, causing them to turn yellow and curl upwards.
With proper treatment, trees affected by pine oak gall rust can be saved. Have heavily infected branches removed. Water your tree well, and apply mulch around its base to moderate soil temperature and improve nutrition. By improving tree health overall, you can improve its ability to fight off the disease.
Fusiform Rust
Fusiform rust is quite common in loblolly pines in the southeast. It is a huge problem for the lumber industry as it wreaks havoc on commercial forests and nurseries. Signs of fusiform rust include:
  • Canker-like galls on branches and branch stems
  • Yellow-orange blisters on the surface of active galls
  • Witches brooms, or the proliferation of small branches near infected areas
Trees do not survive fusiform rust. Have any infected trees removed promptly; their weak branches present a hazard as they are likely to break and damage a house or other structure.
If you think your pine tree is affected by one of these conditions, contact the experts at Cadieu Tree Experts, Inc. We can inspect your trees to diagnose any health problems and recommend the best course of action based on our findings. 

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