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Phomopsis Canker Infects Spruce Trees in Michigan


Colorado, White, and Norway Spruce continue to struggle with infection from Phomopsis Canker. This disease is also labeled as Spruce Tree Decline and Phomopsis Tip Blight. While this was strictly a nursery and tree farm problem for many years, eventually in the 1980's it made its way into the local landscape.


Some of the key symptoms include defoliation, branch death, and in some cases total tree loss. Phomopsis establishes cankers on older branches, usually in the lower half of the tree. Phomopsis can often be mistaken for needle cast and requires trained arborists to correctly identify whether the tree is dealing with Phomopsis or needle cast disease. There is not much outward appearance to the canker infection, one must skin the bark to identify the disease.

Phomopsis occuring on a spruce will have tiny sunken cankers, fungal infections that expand around the branch, girdling the current year's sap-conducting vessels or phloem. As the fungus grows deeper into the resinous branch, the branch loses connection with the main stem and

thus needles begin to drop and limb die-back occurs.


As Colorado, Norway, and White spruce are such an important part of our landscapes, it is important to inspect these trees for possible infection. The spores move slowly but if left untreated will lead to massive branch loss or total tree death. Phomopsis can spread from tree to tree (spruce and other evergreens) which can lead to a greater negative impact in any landscape.


Pruning to remove infected limbs is extremely important in stopping the spread of this canker disease. Root fertilizing in the fall time to improve tree vigor is also helpful. And there are time sensitive targeted spray treatments as well as certain micro trunk injection formulas that are effective in minimizing fungal movement.

Phomopsis spruce decline causes branch die-back, green tip wilting, and terminal bud death. It appears Phomopsis is a greater threat and concern to more mature spruce trees.


If your spruce tree looks pale in color, has small limb die-back or large limb death, the problem may be Phomopsis Canker Disease. To ensure a correct diagnosis and a correct plan for treatment we

encourage you to contact your local professional arborist.


Concerned about the health of your spruce trees? Contact the Tree Doctors at Branch Tree Service and schedule an appointment today.


Healthy Trees saves Lives!

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