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Winter Browning or Desiccation

Infects

Coniferous trees and shrubs

Symptoms

Needles yellow and turn brown and the tree appears scorched in the spring; however symptoms are sometimes delayed well into June.

As well, localized browning may sometimes occur on the south or west side of the tree from sunlight reflecting off the snow. 

Cause

Damage occurs on warm days in early spring when needles respire and lose moisture. The roots are still frozen so the moisture cannot be replaced.

Cure

To control this problem, water trees well in the summer, stop watering in fall to let the tree harden off and then soak deeply before freeze up. Burlap screen to prevent winter browning

To prevent localized browning, erect a screen of burlap or cardboard in the problem area, as shown in this picture.

IPM Toolkit

  • Preventive tools: Not applicable
  • Physical tools: Not applicable
  • Biological tools: Not applicable
  • Chemical tools: Not applicable