ANNAPOLIS, MD – The Maryland Department of Agriculture’s Forest Pest Management program advises landowners to keep an eye out for trees affected by heavy rainfall throughout the summer months. This extended wet period has created favorable growing conditions for fungal pathogens in many parts of the state.
Fungal pathogens have caused noticeable changes in some landscapes, including browning/thinning tree canopies and crowns, distinctive leaf spots, and curling. Excessively wet soil can also cause root infections which may result in bare tree limbs. These conditions have affected both hardwoods and evergreens. Symptoms of fungal infections and their treatment may vary based on individual species.
Infected evergreen trees may exhibit brown or purple needles on branch tips, needle loss, and bare limbs. Landowners with blue spruce trees may notice needle loss and bare limbs. These trees may be protected from further damage by removing any affected lower limbs when trees are dormant. The department reminds landowners to thoroughly clean and disinfect any horticultural tools to prevent the spread of infection.
As hardwoods begin to lose leaves this fall, it may become more difficult to differentiate between senescence and fungal infection. Trees that appear unhealthy may regain leaves. Most trees should sprout healthy green leaves next spring, but infection may return if precipitation levels remain high.
Landowners are encouraged to exercise caution or seek a professional when removing dead trees. For more information, visit: https://extension.umd.edu/hgic/topics/shade-tree-anthracnose-trees.