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Hot on 23 May 2003
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Wind and Frost Injury on Spruce, Fir and Deciduous Trees

Gail Ruhl, Interim P&PDL Director, Senior Diagnostician, Dept. of Botany and Plant Pathology, Purdue University

We have received numerous phone calls and samples questioning the dieback of the new growth on spruce trees as well as shoot dieback, blackening, shredding and scorching of foliage on various deciduous trees. The symptoms appear to be primarily on the west or windward side of trees. This type of uniform pattern appearance is suggestive of an abiotic (noninfectious) problem, such as might occur from environmental or chemical injury. Salt injury has been ruled out due to the recent timing of symptom development and non proximity of the trees and shrubs to sidewalks or roads. The most likely ‘culprits’ responsible for the symptoms observed on new tender plant growth are either excessive desiccation from recent severe winds or the delayed symptom expression of frost damage that may have occurred on April 23rd. Some of the leaf scorch observed may also possibly have been caused by windy and hot conditions (over 80 degrees) in early May when the leaves were developing.

If similar symptoms appear more randomly on the foliage of maple, ash, oak, walnut and sycamore, then a fungal disease known as anthracnose, may be responsible for the leaf blight. This fungal disease can cause darkened, necrotic areas on leaves, particularly in the lower canopy, following wet, springtime conditions. Another typical symptom of anthracnose on sycamores is the dieback of new shoots.

There is no need to spray anything on established trees for any of these problems. In order to prevent further stress to the trees this summer, maintain good cultural practices.

Click on the small image to view a larger image.

Noninfectious leaf scorch
on maple

Drooping candles (new growth)
to environmental injury

Noninfectious leaf scorch on ash
  Photos courtesy of Greg Bossaer  


Drooping candles (new growth)
to environmental injury
Close-up of drooping candles

Photos courtesy of Doug Akers

The information given herein is supplied with the understanding that no discrimination is intended and no endorsement by the Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service is implied. Any person using products listed assumes full responsibility for their use in accordance with current direction of the manufacturer. Purdue University is an equal opportunity/equal access institution.

Information listed is valid only for the state of Indiana.

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