Brown spot is a fungal disease that can infect many species of long-needle pine trees, including the ever-common Scots Pine along with Virginia Eastern Pine and Mugo Pines. If you have a long-needled pine tree in your yard, it is important to know some basic facts about this disease so that you can respond accordingly if your tree becomes infected.
What are the signs of brown spot disease?
The hallmark symptom of the disease is browning of the needles. This occurs in patches, so the tree develops what looks like brown spots amid its otherwise green foliage. The needles typically turn orange-red, and then brown before falling to the ground, leaving dead spots. Typically, this starts near the bottom of the tree and then works its way upward over a period of several years. For instance, the first year, the tree might have just a few brown spots on its lower branches. Then, the next year, the spots might extend half-way up the tree.
How quickly the disease progresses will depend on the weather conditions and vitality of your tree. A strong tree in dry weather may only ever show symptoms on its lower branches, whereas a tree that has been weakened by other diseases and exposed to excessive wetness might be fully covered in spots within a year or two. (Fungi thrive in moist environments.)
What should you do if your tree begins showing signs of brown spot?
Thankfully, the disease is rarely deadly if the owner takes action to treat it. If the infection appears to be rather low-level (there are not a lot of spots, and they are isolated to the lower branches), this can be achieved by collecting and burning any fallen needles. This will destroy fungal spores and help break the life cycle of the fungus. You should also avoid overhead watering to keep moisture levels down and have the tree pruned to promote better air circulation.
If the tree has many spots and they are appearing on upper branches, then you should treat the infection more aggressively. Have the tree sprayed with fungicides. Those that are copper-based tend to work well. Also use the strategies above (pruning, avoiding overhead watering, and burning needles). Observe the tree's progress after having it sprayed. If it is still showing symptoms a few months later, you may need to have it sprayed again. For more information, contact Tri-Point Tree & Landscaping or a similar company.