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Old 02-16-2014, 06:37 PM
 
Location: SE Michigan
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All the evergreens around me seem to be dark green as is standard during winter. However this tree is showing a lot of yellowing and brown/dead needles; something I don't recall ever happening in previous years.

Like much of the country, we've had some terribly cold weather, heavy snow and ice storms. My tree hasn't lost any branches or anything but seems a bit anemic. Is there anything I can do, or is this normal for a hard winter?

It's the only tree in my front yard so I hate to see it go.
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Old 02-17-2014, 09:44 AM
 
Location: NC
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As long as nothing has changed at the soil level, your tree itself will probably do fine, although you might lose a branch or two. It is possible that you have winter damage to the branches you photographed. Wait until summer, then if they are 'dead', remove them leaving an inch or two of stub next to the trunk so the tree can seal off the cut zone.
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Old 02-17-2014, 11:40 AM
 
Location: SE Michigan
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Thanks, I hope you are right! Soil is unchanged as far as I know. I was planning on pruning it once the weather warms up anyway.

I'd hate to lose this tree.
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Old 02-17-2014, 12:40 PM
 
Location: NC
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Just remember that pruning the tree will have a permanent effect, in that new branches/twigs won't grow to fill in where the removed ones were located.
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Old 02-17-2014, 12:45 PM
 
Location: SE Michigan
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Quote:
Originally Posted by luv4horses View Post
Just remember that pruning the tree will have a permanent effect, in that new branches/twigs won't grow to fill in where the removed ones were located.
Yes indeed....I've pruned it before because it's right next to my driveway so I need to keep the branches high enough to clear the vehicles. The pruned lower branches haven't grown back in but the tree keeps growing upwards.
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Old 02-17-2014, 01:10 PM
 
Location: East of Seattle since 1992, originally from SF Bay Area
39,159 posts, read 70,321,041 times
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Fir trees normally shed some old needles all the time, but not enough that it's noticeable except when they blow all over the ground in a heavy wind. Most varieties of fir are very hardy, to -25 below. Since they do need a cold winter
rest period, I have seen them die from a strange winter where it's alternately cold and warm, but it seems to affect younger trees and bonsai more than established, mature trees. Yours looks more like a needlecast disease, a fungus problem. Try a local university agriculture department website and see if this is common in your area.
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Old 02-17-2014, 01:28 PM
 
Location: SE Michigan
6,191 posts, read 17,319,622 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hemlock140 View Post
Fir trees normally shed some old needles all the time, but not enough that it's noticeable except when they blow all over the ground in a heavy wind. Most varieties of fir are very hardy, to -25 below. Since they do need a cold winter
rest period, I have seen them die from a strange winter where it's alternately cold and warm, but it seems to affect younger trees and bonsai more than established, mature trees. Yours looks more like a needlecast disease, a fungus problem. Try a local university agriculture department website and see if this is common in your area.
Oh wow, thank you!

We do have a university Master Gardener office here and I did think about calling them up.

Looking at this tree right now through my window, I'm rather concerned about the yellowing of the needles. I've been checking out other evergreens around here and they're all a healthier-looking dark green, despite our horrid winter.

I think I need to make a few calls.
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Old 02-19-2014, 11:15 AM
 
Location: North Idaho
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OP, to look their best, fir trees need to be fed. What I do for mine is to treat them with a pour-on, root-take-up systemic to keep the pine beetles out of them (we have a serious insect epidemic in Oregon that is killing the pine forests). Don't use systemics if the tree is near any food producing plants, but since other plants don't seem to like it under fir trees, they are most often by themselves.

Around the drip line, I place those time release plant food spikes. Those can be buried to keep them away form dogs and wildlife.

Both lack of water and too much water will cause needle die back and yellowing.

Just because firs grow and thrive in the wild does not mean that a fir in your garden doesn't require the same loving care as every other plant in the garden.
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Old 02-23-2014, 09:14 AM
 
Location: SE Michigan
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OWS, your response prompted me to call a great local garden center and you may have nailed it. (I've been unable to get hold of anyone from the MSU extension, and in fact most garden centers around here are closed for the season.)

They said that with this very cold winter, a lot of trees are unable to get enough water because the ground is so frozen, and it should green up in spring time. He also suggested fertilizing in spring to replenish minerals and such.

Also, apparently there has been some sort of fungus attacking fir trees in the region, causing lower needles to fall off and dead branches, but from his description it didn't sound applicable to my tree.

So mature trees need to be fed - honestly that's never occurred to me! When everything starts thawing, I'll purchase whatever they suggest to feed the tree.
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