DURHAM — Residents from throughout New Hampshire are reporting white pine needles turning yellow and brown.
While it’s common for pine needles to turn brown and fall off naturally during the autumn months, fungi are the cause of the current browning.
The yellow and brown needles residents are now seeing have their roots in last year’s weather.
Heavy precipitation during last year’s spring contributed to the buildup of fungal spores. The spores infected the interior needles of white pine trees as they were developing new shoots. The needles turning brown this year are last year’s needles.
Kyle Lombard, New Hampshire Division of Forests and Lands forest health specialist, said, “A tree will drop its brown needles and put out new ones in the near future. If the tree is healthy, it will survive.”
The damage may look serious, but the trees aren’t dying. Trees will soon look better, once all the injured needles fall and the new needles expand.
Dode Gladders, UNH Cooperative Extension Sullivan County field forestry specialist, has already seen needles dropping.
“It is fair to say that we have some noticeable symptoms but it’s less severe than last year in mid-June in the Sullivan County area,” Gladders said.
“Unless we have many years of damage, there shouldn’t be lasting effects on tree health,” he said.
The new needles are green and healthy, according to Cheryl Smith, plant health specialist with UNH Extension. She echoed the positive outlook for the white pine, but said people may see more dead lower branches than usual or further weakening of trees that are already unhealthy from other stresses.
Call the UNH Cooperative Extension Education Center and Info Line at 1-877-EXT-GROW for information about keeping trees healthy.