Tuesday, November 23, 2010
It's late fall now and the thoughts of the holidays begin to take hold. Many are still raking up the leaves in our yards and may be noticing that our evergreens are getting some brown spots towards the inner needles. This is Fall Cast-Off. Like deciduous trees, evergreens react to the changing sunlight exposure that fall and winter bring. Since there is chlorophyll in the needles just like in deciduous leaves it needs a certain amount of light to be maintained. When the light decreases the tree will shed or cast-off some of the older inner needles. this helps it to conserve the available energy that it has. There is no cause for alarm, this is as natural as the leaves falling off the trees around it. The  reason the tree loses the inner needles is because they are not as exposed to the open sunlight as the surface needles. That is why when you look at an older tree, you will notice that it grows out like an umbrella.
Do not mistake cast-off for other diseases that can materialize with similar symptoms. The one thing that will set cast-off apart from other diseases is that only the innermost needles will be cast, not the ones at the surface. If there is uniform browning of the needles you need to look to other sources.
Cast-Off is common to all species of conifers. Spruces, Firs, and Pines all produce some cast-off each Fall season. Do not attempt to prune off these needles they will fall naturally. They will help to richen the soil beneath the tree. Just a little note: All pruning should be done in September to October. If done later the tree is in a weakened state and cannot scar over the cuts properly to keep out disease.
Enjoy your evergreens.
                                                                        Pine Exhibiting Fall Cast-Off

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