Thread: Winter Dessication on Norway Spruce/White Spruce

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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2007

    Winter Dessication on Norway Spruce/White Spruce

    I planted 5 Norway and White Spruce trees last fall. They are all 2-3' tall. All winter long they looked nice and healthy. Today I looked at them and all except one is barren of needles.
    At first I suspected rabbits. But then noticed the nearby Austrian Pine was red. Also, the few remaining needles on the spruces were dry and fell off upon touch. I'm very much guessing this is severe dessication. The one good tree has a large snow drift on it...
    My question is: will these come back? I think we are still several weeks away from budding here. Maybe more...
    The nearby Scots Pine and Austrian Pine are just a little they seemed to have survived better. Even though they are more exposed.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Upstate New York, Zone 5

    RE: Winter Dessication on Norway Spruce/White Spruce

    Have they been exposed to any road salt? I had the same symptoms in Norway spruce and Canaan Fir that I planted 30 ft from the road. Too close to escape the spray. I wish the Highway Dept would not use so much salt and chemicals on the roads. It's polluting the earth and groundwater as well.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2007

    RE: Winter Dessication on Norway Spruce/White Spruce

    No road salt here. The DOT just uses sand.
    I did a little "scratch" test on the bark. They are juicy and green underneath the bark. So I'm hopeful they will come back.
    I really do believe they were just scoured of all their needles. Sort of like you see krumholtz growing in alpine areas where the exposed plant is scoured and the part covered by snow remains intact.
    I was unsuccessful at controlling the drifting this winter. Maybe next winter I'll move my snow fence to a different spot.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Eastern PA

    RE: Winter Dessication on Norway Spruce/White Spruce

    I've had the same happen with seedlings of` balsam fir (4.5 out of 6 trees - one's iffy), hemlock (maybe 3 out of 20), Colorado blue spruce (7 out of 12), Serbian spruce (5 out of 7), Norway spruce (1 out of 6), and Austrian pine (1 out of 2). I haven't had a problem with the one white spruce I have. I've got a single Douglasfir that's been hanging on for about three or four years now, but still manages to look like an 6" tall Charlie Brown Christmas tree.

    I've had the better luck with slightly older seedlings (in the hemlock and Serb's case) and by Spring planting instead of Autumn. Some of the Colorado's did badly on account of me attempting to grow them in near-full shade (although two survivors are in the darkest locations...) I expect the issue with the balsam fir was lack of water during their first year combined with an almost-out-of-zone planting. I suspect one of the deer herds in complications with the hemlock.

    Although it's definitely disappointing when you lose a seedling you invested time, if not all that much money, into, that is the advantage - you can make up for some loss in quantity.

    Green Man Enviroscaping LLC

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Northern Minnesota-zone 3

    RE: Winter Dessication on Norway Spruce/White Spruce

    I've just been able to get out and check on my trees for the first time since late November because the snow has mostly melted (though there are still drifts around and we're supposed to get a foot tonight and tomorrow).

    Of the approx. 80 trees/shrubs we planted last fall, about 80-85% survived the winter as far as I can tell.

    Winter burn was particularly harsh to my potted spruce (I was an idiot and didn't cover them)... you can see where the snow line was, that's for sure!

    Almost all of the seedlings I planted did well. A few died, but I had that down to pre-existing problems before winter.

    My deciduous trees did quite well. They all have nice buds on them and the scratch tests I did looked quite good. I guess I can't really tell for sure until the leaves start to come out.

    My 3rd try at Dwarf Alberta Spruce failed... I will never plant them again. They need to be covered every winter, lest they succumb to complete winter burn wherever the snow doesn't cover them.

    I am just hoping for a gradual, wettish Spring as we have sandy soil.

    I guess what I did not plan for was the coldest winter in several years and the coldest Dec-Mar since '96 (which was one of the most brutal winters on record).

    If I had it to do over, I'd have covered all of hte evergreens that were bigger than seedlings. My white pine seedlings, which were short (and flexible) had a great survival rate... my red pines which were transplants... not so good.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2007

    RE: Winter Dessication on Norway Spruce/White Spruce

    The snow has melted down far enough on one of the white spruce wear I can see the green needles.
    What do you suggest using to cover the trees?
    Next year I'll know wear to put the snow fence to help also.

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