Spruce needle rust not an issue this year

By Linda Williams, forest health specialist, Woodruff. Linda.Williams@wisconsin.gov; 920-360-0665

Orange fruiting bodies of spruce needle rust erupt from needles. From a distance, the tree appears orange due to colored pustules on the needles. Photo: Linda Williams

Orange fruiting bodies of spruce needle rust erupt from needles. From a distance, the tree appears orange due to colored pustules on the needles. Photo: Linda Williams

Occurrences of spruce needle rust in northeastern and north central Wisconsin is low this year for the first time since 2013. Spruce needle rust, caused by the fungus Chrysomyxa weirii, infects spruce needles. Fruiting structures erupt from needles in August in shades of pink, yellow, and orange, greatly affecting the appearance of the trees. In addition, infected needles drop off, causing trees to look sparse.

No treatments are available for already-infected needles. Preventative fungicide treatments for yard trees may be used the following spring and early summer, but treatments must be applied before symptoms appear. Repeated treatments will be necessary; the fungicide, which must fully coat needles to be effective, washes or wears off over time.

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