spruce trees and soil ph

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We had 3 trees planted 5 yrs. ago. They grew well and now are 8 to 11 ft. tall. However over the past 3 yrs. we experienced some tips that brownout in different locations around the trees, about 7 or 8 such brown spots. We also have every yr. where whole branches slowly start to turn light green and then yellow and over a few months the branch turns brown ,this occurs  in only one spot on the tree and has done this with 2 different trees . a third one has not yet had this problem. Early this spring we had to cut a large branch 2/3 up one of the trees out. Now a smaller branch on another tree has begun to turn light yellow and a few tips have turned brown. Last yr. the Penn St. Ag. Center looked at  snipped branches and got back to us that the tree was under stress.  We are at a loss to understand this problem and do not want to loss the trees. Now they are really growing nice new shoots. We would like your advice on what might be happening.

First things first. When it comes to trees, there are many factors that can contribute to their growth pattern and overall health. These factors are somewhat complicated and many times can take years to have an impact – especially since most trees grow slowly. That being said, there are some common reasons why many run into problems and the good news is that these corrective measures can be done by most any homeowner.

At this time, the most important thing to consider would be the condition of the soil under these trees. Spruce trees tend to make the soil underneath them acidic. When the soil PH drops below 6.5, undue stress will be felt by most any tree including spruce. For starters, I suggest you get a good PH reading to see where the soil is being measured where these trees are located. If you don’t have a good SOIL PH METER, get one. Take readings every 5 feet. If you find it to be below 6.5, get some LIQUID LIME and bring it back up to an acceptable level. This can be accomplished in a week or two. More information about the importance of ph can be read in our SOIL PH CONTROL article.

Get back to us once you know the soil PH and are confident it’s where it should be. This alone could be reason for all other problems; once we know the PH is Ok we’ll further advise.

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