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5 Common Tree Diseases in Huntsville, Alabama

5 Common Tree Diseases in Huntsville, Alabama

Trees are living, breathing things. This means that, at times, they can get sick or face diseases just like humans and animals do. Unfortunately, trees can’t really tell us when they aren’t feeling their best. That’s why there are professionals who have researched and studied diseases that trees can get – so that we can do our best to keep trees from getting sick. In Huntsville, trees are hit by a particular few diseases more than others due to the climate, tree types, and pests native to the area. Here are the tree diseases to keep an eye on in your back yard:

5. Pitch Canker

  • Cankers on the bole, branches, and/or shoots of infect trees
  • Thinning near the crown of the tree
  • Needles turning yellow, brown, or dark gray
  • Copious amounts of resin on the wood

If your tree has any of the symptoms listed above, it may have Pitch Canker. Pitch Canker is a disease caused by the fungus Fusarium Subglutinans. It is one of the leaded causes of deformity and growth loss in planted pine trees throughout Alabama. The disease is spreading rapidly throughout the south, impacting new states every year. If you have slash, shortleaf, longleaf, or loblolly pines in your yard, you are susceptible to this disease.

According to the University of California, it is common to see the deodar weevil or subtropical pine tip moth carry this fungus, however, it can also come as a result of weather-related injuries that weaken the tree.

4. Brown Spot Needle Blight

  • Small, irregular gray or green spots on the bark of the tree
  • Needles dying at a rapid pace
  • North side of the tree losing needles

If you have any of the signs above, your trees may have Brown Spot Needle Blight, a disease that hits pines all over the country, but is most common in the south. This disease is another that hits the longleaf pine extremely hard, resulting in fewer seeds and defoliation. If one tree gets this disease, it can reduce the number of viable offspring by 75%. Note that brown spot needle blight is only a concern during the grass stage, so you only really have to worry then. However, for those worried about deforestation, it is a huge problem.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, an appropriate fungicide can be used. However, this fungicide is typically only available to professionals because of the strength and the fact that the use is prohibited under many circumstances. This is something that needs to be handled by professionals.

3. Annosus Root Rot

  • Tress growing extremely thin
  • Foliage turns odd colors
  • Trees fall without warning
  • Pine Bark Beetle swarms
  • Visible conks on trees

If you live in Alabama, Annosus Root Rot is something to be feared. This disease can reduce the number of trees in forests in just a few shorts years and it impacts trees of every age. Young trees are particularly susceptible, and can even get it from the stumps and roots of trees that are long gone. Even worse, annosus root rot brings pine bark beetles to your residence, which can then impact other trees. The disease is spread through airborne spores, so there aren’t many ways to avoid it. According to the Alabama Forestry Commission, the best way is to talk to a professional during the summer months about ways to prevent the problem from spreading or from killing your tree. It is a very delicate procedure.

Even worse is that sometimes there are no outer signs of trouble and the trees just get so weak that they fall over. Where you find one tree with annosus root rot, you’ll find more, and that can lead to multiple falls at one time.

2. Fusiform Rust

  • Needles suddenly changing to brown or purple
  • Spindle-shaped swellings on branches
  • Weakened stems and breakage during wind storms

One of the most damaging forest tree diseases in all of the US is fusiform rust. This disease impacts almost 30% of loblolly pines and has put them in severe danger. With the disease increasing by 2-3% each year, it is only a matter of time until it works its way through Huntsville. Impacting oaks and pines, this disease spreads throughout the late spring months.

According to the University of Florida Forest Resources and Conservation, “Galls are abnormal growths and swellings that can be found on nearly every part of a plant. Galls can be caused by a variety of organisms including bacteria, fungi, nematodes, wasps, and mites. Fusiform rust often causes galls on the branches or main stem of pine trees.” This is what you want to look for on your trees. If you see them, call a professional immediately.

1. Little-leaf Disease

  • Shorter than normal needles
  • Needles start turning yellow or resemble a fox tail
  • Twigs become shorts and increasingly brittle
  • Crown starts to thin after a few years

While “Little Leaf Disease” may sound cute, it isn’t very cute for the trees that get it. In fact, it has nothing to do with the leaves at all. Little Leaf Disease impacts the root system of pine trees. The reason this one is so difficult is because there isn’t one particular cause for it. Instead, poor nutrients, eroded soils, and a soil fungus can lead to the problem.

The other big problem is that trees that are older but not “old” seem to be impacted. Trees do respond to treatment and have been able to live long, healthy lives if it is caught extremely early. However, once symptoms appear, the tree will die within 5-years according to the Shortleaf Pine Initiative.

Just like there are check-ups for our bodies, we need to consider getting check-ups for our trees. We can prevent many of the common diseases found on trees in Alabama if we catch the signs soon enough – and we can certainly treat them if the disease has already taken hold of your tree. It is all about maintenance and keeping your eyes open for signs of damage. Unfortunately, the signs aren’t always apparent to many people because they haven’t been trained on what to spot. That’s where our team comes in – at All Star Tree Service, we are trained to notice the little things that can lead to bigger things.

If you are worried about your tree, or the pictures above look startlingly familiar to you, give us a call at 1-256-513-6277 and we will come take a look at what’s going on. If we find something, we will work with you to treat the problem in hopes that you can save your tree. Don’t delay – time is of the essence with many of these problems.

Header photo courtesy of Erin Kinney on Flickr!

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