Cytospora Canker on Spruce


“Help!!! I have been trying to get help from Jung Seed, but I don’t seem to get anywhere with their customer service.  Here are the emails I have exchanged with them:

Me on 10/17/15:

I think we have a fungus that is killing our blue spruce trees we bought from you this spring at the Sun Prairie Garden Center.  The staff at your store directed me to contacting customer service.  Is there a treatment or spray that we could do to try to save the trees. Thank you for any help/suggestions.

Lori in Customer Service on 10/23/15:

Are you sure this is a fungus?  What does it look like and exactly what is happening to the trees?  What part of the tree is being affected?  I need more information in order assist you.  You cannot treat the symptoms without accurately without being sure what you are dealing with.  We will wait to hear from you.

Me on 10/23/15:

Thanks for the reply.  I suspect it’s a fungus because our area has had a problem with it.  I’ve attached some pictures.  The needles are dropping – seems like from the inside out and bottom up.

Cytospora 1 Cytospora 2

After this, I never heard anything back.  I resent the above email twice during the next week, and then called.  The person that answered the phone named Rachel seemed as clueless about spruce trees as anyone I had ever spoke to and told me that it was not a fungus but me not taking proper care of the tree.  If I had further questions about tree care, I should go ask the extension agent in my county.

We don’t have one in our county anymore and the local Master Gardeners field the questions until the vacancy is filled.  From my past experience, they don’t know much at all.  When I asked and explained what I had been told by Jung’s, the Master Gardener lady said she agreed with them because the people there are so knowledgeable and would not be wrong.  Sure…  So, I come to ask you since Jung’s thinks I am nuts and Master Gardeners are inexperienced and naive at best.

Thank you!

Myrna”

__________________________________________________________________
Hi Myrna,

Thank you for the email regarding your blue spruce trees.  It looks like they are suffering from a fungal disease called Cytospora Canker.  Cytospora Canker is observed most often on older trees, especially those that are planted in poor sites. Trees weakened by environmental stresses, such as drought, freeze injury, or high temperatures, also are more susceptible to canker diseases. The Cytospora Canker fungus may attack many different species of hardwood trees, conifers, and shrubs.

Spruce trees infected with the Cytospora Canker fungus typically show scattered branch dieback, often starting on the lower branches. A close look at the dead branches usually reveals the presence of sticky white sap. Infected trees produce this resinous sap in response to the infection by the canker fungus.

The Cytospora fungus gains entrance into branches or twigs of trees through wounds or branch stubs. Over time, the fungus encircles or girdles branches, causing death. Brown needles can be observed on killed branches, but they eventually fall off, leaving bare branches.

As with many diseases, the best control for Cytospora Canker is prevention.  Plant trees in a good site, one that is well-drained and allows unrestricted growth as the tree matures. Adding mulch around trees increases overall health in many ways, including reducing competition from turfgrass. If dry conditions occur, water deeply if feasible. Any cultural practice that promotes good tree vigor helps prevent canker diseases.

Pruning out diseased branches is the primary means of treating trees showing symptoms of Cytospora Canker. Scout declining trees closely for cankers.  Prune at least 4-6 inches below any visible cankers. Some branches may need to be pruned back to the trunk. To minimize spread of the disease, prune only during dry weather. The fungal spores of Cytospora can be easily spread when conditions are wet. Fungicide sprays are generally not effective at controlling canker diseases.

For more information, I’ve included the local extension brochure on Cytospora Canker.  It can be found here:
http://vilaslandandwater.org/land_resources_pages/land_resources_lawn_n_garden/lawn_and_garden/trees_and_shrubs/evergreen_trees_shrubs/problems/a2639_cb
s_cytospora_canker.pdf

I hope this information helps you out.  If you have any other questions, please feel free to ask.

 

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© Mertie Mae Botanics LLC and Horticulture Talk!, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Mertie Mae Botanics LLC and Horticulture Talk! with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

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