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We have a large pine tree in our yard that looks like it is dying. Can someone from extension come and look at it and tell me if it is dying or if this summer's heat has just caused it to withdraw in. It gets south and west sunlight all day long. Thanks

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A

We do not have anyone available for a site visit, but if you can bring in a
sample of a branch that has the some of the symptoms you are describing we
can diagnose it in our office. Maintaining the health of your plants and
trees is the first consideration in preventing pests.  Pests usually are
secondary and opportunistic when the tree is already in decline most often
due to environmental stress, such as drought.  If there are other symptoms
such as sawdust around the base of trees, insects on the needles, we can
better diagnose that here with a sample in the office.  You will find our
office location below and usually there is a Master Gardener in the office
here in the mornings.

However, pine needles turning brown and dying towards the interior of the
tree is typical, the needles having completed their usefulness, last on a
tree 2 to 3 years and then drop off.  If there are an exceptional number of
brown needles, the cause is probably drought related.  Many conifers,
especially large trees suffer from residual drought stress.  We've had
several years of drought and large trees require more water due to their
size to maintain their health.  It depends where your pine tree is located
and what type of irrigation you are delivering water to the tree.  Remember
that most of Salt Lake Valley is high desert with less than 13 inches of
annual precipitation that occurs in the winter months, so most of the trees
in our landscape need supplemental water.  Many trees are located in or near
lawn and most people rely on the lawn sprinkler to supply the water to the
trees.  Unfortunately, this type of irrigation is not ideal for trees, which
prefer infrequent and deeper watering.  Here is a link to Utah State
University Fact Sheet on Efficient Irrigation of Trees and Shrubs that will
help you properly irrigate.
http://extension.usu.edu/files/publications/publication/HG-523.pdf

Posted on 11 Sep 2007

Maggie Shao
Horticulture Agent, Salt Lake County

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