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Why are my pine trees turning brown?

There can be several causes of pine needles turning brown. First, there could be root damage and/or death suffered over the past few seasons of excessively wet springs and dry, hot summers. Another is from winter drying and desiccation, especially with trees that were dry going into winter; this is fairly common in evergreens. It's important that pines are sited where soil drainage is good, and that they are watered in late fall, especially if they are young trees.

A second cause of brown needles can be related to specific fungal diseases, such as tip blight (Sphaeropsis), associated with the two-needle pines - Austrian and Scots. There are fungicidal treatments for this disease once it is diagnosed.

Third, pines may have been dead for a while from a combination of environmental stresses and an infestation of bark beetles. A dead pine tree can remain green for a time (think about your cut holiday tree) and eventually turn brown "suddenly." Trees affected by bark beetle will be brown all over. Additionally, infested trees will have pitch flow from the trunk, sawdust, and numerous small "shot holes" in the tree trunk. Bark beetles seem to attack older trees that are already stressed and on an irreversible decline. Remove dead or dying trees and grind or chip the wood.

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