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Picture of the Week for
17 April 2000

Drought Stressed Spruce

Karen Rane, Plant Disease Diagnostician

We have received several spruce samples recently with needle discoloration and/or loss of needles. In most cases, insect or infectious disease were not confirmed. Similar symptoms can be caused by drought stress. The summer and fall of 1999 were very dry, and trees not receiving supplemental irrigation during dry periods may be showing symptoms that might be due to drought stress. At this point in time, it is difficult to tell if the trees will recover. If no new growth develops this spring and early summer, then the trees will not recover. If new growth develops on the branches this year, make sure the trees are watered during dry weather. Dr. Paul Pecknold recommends thoroughly watering stressed trees around the tree's drip line with a slow, deep soaking of the soil (12-18 inches) once or twice a month. For more information on the effects of drought on spruce refer to an article in the Down the Garden Path Newsletter (no. 156; November 17 1999) available at http://www.ppdl.purdue.edu/PPDL/DGP/DGP156.pdf

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Last updated: 1 May 2000/tlm.