Pine tree diseases can cause devastation when they aren’t diagnosed promptly. The proper diagnosis and treatment can mean the difference between a tree that will recover, and one that needs to be permanently removed from the landscape.
- Pine Bark Beetles – The southern pine beetle is the most destructive pine bark beetle in the South. The SPB attacks all species of southern yellow pines including eastern white pine. It is particularly destructive in over-mature and overcrowded stands. Outbreaks are cyclic and are usually preceded by drought or flooding. The usual signs of attack on the outside of trees will be pitch tubes (in bark crevices when formed). The removal of all infested trees by salvage is the best means of controlling southern pine beetle spots. Chemical control via a trunk wash is used on a very limited basis and is recommended only for spots having fewer than 20 trees. There are two new tactics for controlling southern pine beetles. Phero Tech Inc. has registered a beetle-produced inhibitor, verbenone for use in disrupting spot growth.
- Black Turpentine Beetle – Attacks are confined to the lower bole and are seldom found more than ten feet off the ground. Pitch tubes are about the size of a quarter and occur in the bark crevices. Trees attacked by the black turpentine beetle can be treated effectively with an approved insecticide because it only infests the lower six feet of trunk.
- Diplodia Blight – Diplodia blight of pines is a treatable condition if discovered early. This pine tree disease is characterized by stunted, brown new growth in the spring, resin drops forming on the stunted growth and entire branches that have died. The source of this disease is a fungus that spreads quickly in the spring, Diplodia pinea. It usually infects single plantings in landscaped yards, parks and trees used in windbreaks. It seldom affects pine tree stands in the wild. Trees can become infected after pruning, from holes made in the tree by boring insects and from wind or hail damage. The treatment for diplodia blight is two applications of fungicide when the tree begins budding in the spring. The applications of the fungicide should be at least one week apart. Avoid pruning the tree during this period as the fungus can infect any open wounds.
- Armillaria Root Disease – This is caused by the Armillaria fungus. It is difficult to diagnose this disease at the onset because it attacks the roots underground. However, once this fungal disease begins spreading, the outward appearance of the tree will change. Characteristics of the disease include the thinning of foliage, trees turning completely yellow then brown before dying, and stems producing copious quantities of resin. Treatment for this disease is the application of fungicide at the base and around the roots of the tree and where there are any open wounds. Unfortunately, diagnosis often comes very late and the tree cannot be saved. The tree should be removed and the wood hauled off from the premises. New pines should not be planted in an area where an infected tree has been removed.