NDSU Extension - Burleigh County


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Fall Needle Drop

Fall is upon us and we are seeing great fall color from our trees! Despite the wind this past weekend, our North Dakota trees were on full display for fall color. This time of the year tends to also worry homeowners who notice that their evergreen trees have turned color and have lost some needles.

Evergreen tree needles are yellowing and browning; they are dropping their inner needles as well.  There is no need to be alarmed by this, it is a natural process our evergreen trees go through. Evergreen needles don’t last forever on a tree and new growth (needles) are added every year.Fall Needle Drop

The most common evergreens in North Dakota we see are spruce and pine trees.  Pine trees have long needles two-seven inches in length.  They are held in clusters, whereas spruce trees have short individual needles ¾ inch to an inch in length. Pine needles live from two to seven years and show the most drastic fall needle drop.  Spruce tree needles usually live longer than pine needles and may persist on a tree for 10 years.

Some needle drop towards the center of the tree is normal for this time of the year. If you are seeing an entire branch lose needles or tips of the branches dying off on your evergreen trees, contact your local extension office.  That might indicate a disease, insect, or environmental problem.


For more information, contact:

Kelsey Deckert, Extension Agent - Horticulture

Burleigh/Morton County Extension (701) 221-6865

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