How Does Tip Blight Affect My Trees?
Diplodia tip blight affects Austrian, Scots, and Mugo pine trees. As its name implies, it starts at the tips of those trees, causing any needles located there to turn yellow, tan, or brown. Over time, it stunts these needles' growth and causes them to curl up. It also tends to leave behind fruiting bodies, which are black in color and often fall to the base of the needle. The fungus can also affect bark, weakening it over time.
If diplodia tip blight is allowed to spread for long enough, it can produce perennial cankers, which cause the tree to appear disfigured and can kill entire branches all the way back to the trunk. Not only is this a serious threat to the health of your trees in and of itself, but it deprives them of energy and nutrients, making them vulnerable to insects, weather, and a host of other threats. Thus both directly and indirectly, diplodia tip blight can destroy your trees.
The symptoms of diplodia tip blight are initially similar to those of a moth larvae infestation. Thus if you notice these effects, check the branches to see if they contain larvae or larval tunnels. If so, insect control measures are in order; if not, you are dealing with tip blight.
How to Prevent Tip Blight
As with any aspect of lawn care, prevention is always preferable to treatment. You can lower the odds of infection by:
Pruning Your Trees- When you prune your trees regularly, you increase airflow within the branches. This prevents fungal spores from building up in the interior and spreading through each tree. It also means that if some branches are already infected, you’re likely to get rid of them before the disease spreads.
Spacing Your Trees- Besides increasing the airflow in the interior of individual trees, you need to boost airflow between trees. You should thus leave enough space between each tree so air can flow through the area with ease.
Disinfecting Your Equipment- Shears and other equipment that you use on your tree should be disinfected regularly in a solution containing four parts water and one part household bleach. This kills spores before they have a chance to spread.
Clean Your Needles- Clear away needles that fall off your trees and dispose of them in an isolated location. This ensures that if some needles are infected, the fungus can’t spread to other trees.
As important as prevention is, no precautions can guarantee that your trees won’t be infected. This is why it’s important to learn.
About Tip Blight Treatment
Tip blight treatment typically involves cultural practices, fungicide, or a combination of the two. For a minor infection, it may be enough to prune infected branches and cones, dispose of their remains in an isolated location, and water and fertilize your tree so it can recover its strength. Try not to do this until the end of summer or later in the year, as pruning earlier can leave the tree's flesh vulnerable to infection.
For more severe infections, you’ll need to apply chemical fungicides, which will kill the fungus before it can spread further. Typically, you’ll need three rounds of treatment to deal with diplodia: one performed at bud break, the second at half candle, and the third at full candle.