15 years ago I transplant... #210453 - Ask Extension

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15 years ago I transplant... #210453

Asked September 03, 2014, 10:33 AM EDT

15 years ago I transplanted a spruce tree exact species unknown). It has done fabulously until this summer. Now the 30' tree has a top (20') that looks dead and is devoid of needles. There is about 8' of life left in the tree (green needles). Any idea what caused this and can it be treated or fixed?

Crow Wing County Minnesota

Expert Response

I'm sorry to hear about your spruce.  If the top 20 feet of a 30 foot tree is dead this whole tree is all but dead and there is nothing that you could do about it.  Spruce trees will not send out new leader branches.

The suddenness of this problem is unusual.  I'm sending links to some diagnostic sites.  Perhaps you can recognize one or more of the diseases that spruce trees are subject to:
http://www.extension.umn.edu/garden/diagnose/plant/evergreen/spruce/branchesdead.html

http://files.dnr.state.mn.us/assistance/backyard/treecare/forest_health/whitesprucediagnosis.pdf

There may be other explanations as well.  If this tree is located in a lawn and you have treated the lawn with herbicides like Dicamba, this can also kill the tree.

Last winter was especially harsh and we have see much damage and death to many of our landscape plants.  If this is a Colorado Spruce it is unsuited for our Minnesota winters and may be showing  permanent freeze damage to the areas that were not protected by snow cover.

I hope this is helpful  Please contact AaE again if you have further questions.
Mary Courteau Replied September 03, 2014, 11:06 AM EDT

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