Sphaeropsis shoot blight is a particularly crippling tree disease affecting conifers, one that it is important to be aware of. Caused by a species of fungus, it will result in a tree whose needles become discolored and whose branches soon begin to die. If you would like to learn more about how to identify this serious disease, read on. This article will provide you with the knowledge necessary to accurately diagnose this problem.
The good news about Sphaeropsis is that it does not affect all conifers. Generally speaking, species of conifer that are native to a particular area are less likely to succumb to the disease than those transplanted from other habitats. Another key consideration is the particular environmental factors affecting a given tree. For instance, a pine is more likely to succumb to Sphaeropsis if it has become stressed by things such as:
- hail damage
- overly compacted soil
- insect infestations
- lack of sunlight
Signs Of The Disease
Generally the first thing you will notice in a tree infected with Sphaeropsis are branch tips that have begun to turn yellow, tan, or brown in color. Looking closer at such branches, you will likely find that their needles appear smaller and more sickly than the needles on healthy branches. You may also find affected branches appearing especially resinous, to the degree that the needles seemed pasted to the branch. Finally, you may notice that the roots of yellowing needles appear black. These black spots are the so-called fruiting bodies of the fungus.
Young branches, shoots, and twigs are much more likely to contract Sphaeropsis than are older ones. There is one exception to this rule, however; branches that have been wounded, broken, or otherwise damaged will be more likely to contract the disease. Also be aware that fruiting bodies may also begin to grow on young pine cones, causing them to appear black in places.
There are two general strategies for combating Sphaeropsis The first, known as the cultural approach, involves indirectly boosting the defense mechanisms of trees that have not yet become infected. This is very important if you have recently noticed that Sphaeropsis has infected a nearby tree. Cultural strategies include such things as:
- additional watering during periods of dry or hot weather
- proper spacing between trees (promotes healthier root development)
- landscaping to ensure proper drainage and eliminate water-logged soil
The second type of strategy involves treating infected trees with special chemical substances. These chemical fungicides should only be applied by a professional arborist. If you believe that a tree in your yard has contracted Sphaeropsis, don't hesitate to contact one of the local tree services as soon as possible.