What’s Killing Off Evergreen Trees?

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(credit: CBS) Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield
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PINE CITY, Minn. (WCCO) – Evergreens are dying at rates the DNR calls alarming.

Last week the focus was on the epidemic in western Wisconsin but on Thursday, WCCO talked with a couple who’ve already lost five pine trees they’d planted decades ago.

Ryan Blaedow with the Minnesota DNR thinks they’ve found the answer.

“We’ve gotten a lot of calls about dying evergreens, pines, spruces, cedars,” he said.

Despite the recent deluge of rain, he said it’s the past years’ droughts that made trees too weak to feed themselves.

“They’re basically starving to death and even though you get a little bit of water now, they’re still very weak and susceptible to insects and diseases because they can’t defend themselves,” Blaedow said.

In some cases it’s fungus, in others it’s critters.

Blaedow said if you see holes on the outside of a tree and find insects beneath the bark, there’s a good chance the tree is dead.

Brown needles are also a bad sign, but if there’s green regrowth there’s hope for survival.

“Best recommendation I have is to water if you can,” he said. “They’re not a whole lot of options.”

Pine City had only moderate loss compared to other cities, as Hinckley reportedly had some major damage.

Blaedow, who has a Ph.D in this field, said Minnesota he has never seen tree deaths this widespread.

Dead trees can be hazards, too, so if you have one it’s suggested you have it removed within a year.

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