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Sirococcus conigenus fungi could be killing your cedar needles | The Evergreen Arborist

I have received calls regarding tree health, pest problems and neighbor’s trees in recent weeks. The following questions represent typical calls.

Q. What is going on with all the dead needles in my Atlas cedar or weeping blue Atlas cedar?

A. This cedar needle blight has affected many such trees in landscapes. According to Jenny Glass, diagnostician at the WSU Plant Clinic, the fungus is most likely Sirococcus conigenus. The wet, cool spring has been ideal for the development of the disease. It attacks the new growth in the spring and early summer. The spores overwinter in the dead needles. Unfortunately, no fungicides are registered for this disease, but some like Fore 80 may have limited effect when applied when new shoots are breaking bud. Removal of as many of the dead needles and debris under the trees as possible is recommended.

Q. My neighbor wants me to cut my tree because it blocks his view, dumps needles on his roof and scares him during high winds. What should I do?

A. First, attempt to maintain a friendly, reasonable and cool-headed relationship. Too many tree disputes arise when attitudes get in the way of levelheaded discussions that could result in amicable solutions.

Second, try to figure out options that would address the concerns. Is the tree safe? A hazard evaluation by a certified arborist may give it a clean bill of health or determine that a risk exists that should be addressed.

Third, if possible, both parties should reverse roles and then ask themselves how they would react to the other’s concerns. Is everyone being as reasonable as possible?

Fourth, figure out a compromise solution. Will some type of pruning help alleviate the problem? Or would the neighbor agree to help with the costs of removing the tree and planting new vegetation?

Unfortunately, attorneys sometime become involved if one party has taken unwise action and cut or damaged a neighbor’s tree without permission. So, be cool and strive hard to arrive at a practical solution. It is much nicer to visit with a neighbor over the fence rather than across a table in an attorney’s office or courtroom.

Q. What is causing the dead leaves in my cherry trees?

A. The wet, cool spring was ideal for the development of many fungi. However, it is too late to spray for most problems at this time. Details of the following diseases are visible on the WSU Cooperative Extension “hortsense” website.

The most common disease is the brown rot fungus on cherries and flowering plums. This is first noticed in the spring when blossoms seem to collapse or become limp, but do not fall off the tree. Small twigs and leaves that have been infected and died are now very visible. Most trees have minor infections that either can be ignored or treated by spraying the tree three times during the spring blossom season. However, it is a difficult fungus to treat successfully. Several fungicides are registered, so read labels carefully and follow the instructions.

Q. What is causing the brown blotches on the leaves of my dogwood, maple, willow and other trees?

A. Several fungi may be involved. The most common is likely anthracnose. The leaves may turn brown, wither up and premature leaf drop may occur. Again several fungicides are registered and must be applied in the early spring to protect the new leaf growth.

A bacterial leaf blight has attacked various species of willows. Fall applications of fungicides are recommended.

Q. My tree just looks sick. What is the problem?

A. If you inquire at a Master Gardener clinic or with some type of professional, be prepared to answer several questions.

First, what kind of a tree is it? What does the damage look like? When did you first notice it? Do you see any tiny insects on the leaves? Is the problem occurring on one tree or several similar trees?

Ideally, take a sample to a Master Gardener clinic near you. An infected branch should have healthy and diseased tissue on it. Or you can contact a professional and request a visit your yard to observe the tree.

Remember, the more information and samples you can furnish, the more likely you are to have a proper diagnosis made.

Dennis Tompkins is a certified arborist, certified hazard tree risk assessor and Master Gardener from the Bonney Lake-Sumner area. He provides small tree pruning, pest diagnosis, hazardous tree evaluations, tree appraisals and other services for homeowners and businesses. Contact him at 253-863-7469 or email at dlt@blarg.net. Website: evergreen-arborist.com.

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