Stop Needlecast before it starts!

Adair M

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Neeflecast is a fungus disease that grows inside pine needles. It shows up later as “tiger stripes” about halfway up the needle. Eventually, the top half of the needle dies, and then the rest of the needle does, too.

This really weakens the tree. The spores can spread out from just a few branches, then tobthe entire tree, then go on to infect all your trees. Pines, particularly JBP are susceptible to it, but all needles trees can get it to some degree. At least in my experience.

The fungus infects the new needles as they are just being formed. In my case, that’s NOW, in the spring. Once it’s in there, there’s little you can do.

So, what’s the treatment?

First off, never bring home a tree that’s badly infected. You will likely not be able to completely cure it, and you risk infecting your entire collection.

Traditionally, sprays such as Daconil and a copper based fungicide are used to control it. If you spray, alternate between the two for best results. Do it weekly, or if you don’t have a bad problem, every other week.

And, what I’ve fond that really helps is a systemic. The fungicide is absorbed via the roots and carried up into the needle to stop it where it starts: in the needle. The sprays just keep it from spreading. The fungus inside the needle is largely unaffected by the sprays.

The system I use is Clearys 3336. It’s a granular lawn fungicide. It comes in large bags, 75 lbs, for spreading on the lawn. A product with the same active ingredient available on Amazon in smaller quantities is Bonide Infuse Systemic Fungicide. Spread a bit on the soil of all your pines while the candles are extending. That way it will be there when the needles start growing, and hopefully, they will be needlecast free!

If you decandle your JBP in the summer, give these trees a second dose about 2 weeks after you decandle. That will treat the second flush.

This, along with a good spraying program, will help you prevent needlecast.

One final tip, Neeflecast thrives on humid, damp, and places where there is restricted air movement. So, keep your pines out in the sun where they are exposed to the breeze. This keeps their foliage dry. And, if possible, try not to wet the foliage when you water your trees, and try not to water late in the evening when the moisture can just hang around all night.

I just treated all mine, and thought it might be helpful for others.

One more tip: i water my trees first. Then go around and put between a teaspoonful to a tablespoonful on each tree, sprinkled all around the soil. Then come back an do a light watering in. Easy Peasy!
 

Victorim

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Neeflecast is a fungus disease that grows inside pine needles. It shows up later as “tiger stripes” about halfway up the needle. Eventually, the top half of the needle dies, and then the rest of the needle does, too.

This really weakens the tree. The spores can spread out from just a few branches, then tobthe entire tree, then go on to infect all your trees. Pines, particularly JBP are susceptible to it, but all needles trees can get it to some degree. At least in my experience.

The fungus infects the new needles as they are just being formed. In my case, that’s NOW, in the spring. Once it’s in there, there’s little you can do.

So, what’s the treatment?

First off, never bring home a tree that’s badly infected. You will likely not be able to completely cure it, and you risk infecting your entire collection.

Traditionally, sprays such as Daconil and a copper based fungicide are used to control it. If you spray, alternate between the two for best results. Do it weekly, or if you don’t have a bad problem, every other week.

And, what I’ve fond that really helps is a systemic. The fungicide is absorbed via the roots and carried up into the needle to stop it where it starts: in the needle. The sprays just keep it from spreading. The fungus inside the needle is largely unaffected by the sprays.

The system I use is Clearys 3336. It’s a granular lawn fungicide. It comes in large bags, 75 lbs, for spreading on the lawn. A product with the same active ingredient available on Amazon in smaller quantities is Bonide Infuse Systemic Fungicide. Spread a bit on the soil of all your pines while the candles are extending. That way it will be there when the needles start growing, and hopefully, they will be needlecast free!

If you decandle your JBP in the summer, give these trees a second dose about 2 weeks after you decandle. That will treat the second flush.

This, along with a good spraying program, will help you prevent needlecast.

One final tip, Neeflecast thrives on humid, damp, and places where there is restricted air movement. So, keep your pines out in the sun where they are exposed to the breeze. This keeps their foliage dry. And, if possible, try not to wet the foliage when you water your trees, and try not to water late in the evening when the moisture can just hang around all night.

I just treated all mine, and thought it might be helpful for others.

One more tip: i water my trees first. Then go around and put between a teaspoonful to a tablespoonful on each tree, sprinkled all around the soil. Then come back an do a light watering in. Easy Peasy!
Aye good conciece info but..
I get nothing on Google for "Neeflecast"... are you trying to rename Needle Cast? Like what the not the 9 o'clock news guys did with a "flange" of gorillas? :)
 

mcpesq817

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This is really helpful Adair, thank you!

How often do you use Clearys? Is it just in early spring as candles are extending? Do you do another application later?
 

Adair M

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Twice a year, for my pines. Needlecast infects the needles as they are growing. So, having it available when the needles are growing kills the fungus in inside the needle. Before it takes hold.

So, spring. That’s once.

Mid-summer, I decandle my Black Pines. In three weeks, the second set of candles will start. So, an application then will protect the second set of needles. That’s twice.

I suppose if you live in one of those area that can produce three flushes, that third time would be helpful, too.
 

Adair M

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Aye good conciece info but..
I get nothing on Google for "Neeflecast"... are you trying to rename Needle Cast? Like what the not the 9 o'clock news guys did with a "flange" of gorillas? :)
Somehow my iPhone is changing “needlecast” to “Neeflecast”. I don’t know how it does that!

My daughter figured out a way to hack the iPhone spellcheck! She reprogrammed my wife’s iPhone to change the word “nice” to insert the entire Gettysburg Address instead!

And to think I paid good money to send her to college!
 

Aeast

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As an arborists and a certified spray applicator I treat hundreds of spruces and pines every year for needle cast. I use a copper based fungicide applied 3 times per spring.

I'll have to disagree with you though about the systemic fungicide working, there is absolutly no evidence showing that this practice is effective at all. I've talked with the top plant pathologists in the state about this exact topic and they say that specifically timed sprays are the only way to control Needle cast.

But, maybe given the small size of a bonsai the tree is actually able to translocate the fungicide effectively.
 
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Aeast

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But you are correct though, preventative sprays are far better than having to reactively treat for Needle cast.
 

zelk

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Thanks for the info you present here. I am also an advocate for clearys 3336 which is also available generically as Thiomyl. I can’t say if it is effective against needlecast but I am convinced that it works for phomopsis on junipers to the extent that it is indicated on the label and that it has shown to work in my case.
 

Adair M

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As an arborists and a certified spray applicator I treat hundreds of spruces and pines every year for needle cast. I use a copper based fungicide applied 3 times per spring.

I'll have to disagree with you though about the systemic fungicide working, there is absolutly no evidence showing that this practice is effective at all. I've talked with the top plant pathologists in the state about this exact topic and they say that specifically timed sprays are the only way to control Needle cast.

But, maybe given the small size of a bonsai the tree is actually able to translocate the fungicide effectively.
I suspect that’s it. The small size of a bonsai vs a full size tree. I can only say that since I’ve been using the Clearys, I’ve had much better control over needlecast than when using the sprays alone.

I have found Daconil, by itself, doesn’t work very well. Copper by itself works pretty well, but doesn’t give complete control. Alternating Daconil and copper works better. And, finally, adding the Clearys has really turned the tide for me.

Several years ago, I made the mistake of thinking I could rescue a badly infected JBP, so I brought it home, and began treating it with Daconil and Copper spray. Didn’t work. Not only did I lose that tree, it infected several others I had as well! I lost two more trees! And while I was able to keep it from killing the others by using the sprays, it wasn’t until I added the Clearys that I was able to get them all clear again. Prior to having that infected tree, I really didn’t have a problem with needlecast. Now, I take no chances!
 

Aeast

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It definitely is a nasty fungus, hard to get rid of for sure.

I have customers ask me all the time, "so how long will I need to have my tree treated?" To which I reply, as long as you want your tee to look healthy.

It takes years to get a tree under control
 

VAFisher

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Scots seems to be very susceptible to it as well. I lost one nice one that I got from Julian Adams and I thought I was going to lose a second one. Most of the new growth was affected lat year and eventually turned brown. I started using the Bonide granules on it along with spraying with copper and it actually put out a second flush of smaller, spikey, juvenile looking growth. That growth remained green and doesn't show any effects of needle cast. Candles are extending on it now so I'll know soon what this year will bring. It has already received a dose of Bonide so I've got my fingers crossed.
 

erb.75

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Neeflecast is a fungus disease that grows inside pine needles. It shows up later as “tiger stripes” about halfway up the needle. Eventually, the top half of the needle dies, and then the rest of the needle does, too.

This really weakens the tree. The spores can spread out from just a few branches, then tobthe entire tree, then go on to infect all your trees. Pines, particularly JBP are susceptible to it, but all needles trees can get it to some degree. At least in my experience.

The fungus infects the new needles as they are just being formed. In my case, that’s NOW, in the spring. Once it’s in there, there’s little you can do.

So, what’s the treatment?

First off, never bring home a tree that’s badly infected. You will likely not be able to completely cure it, and you risk infecting your entire collection.

Traditionally, sprays such as Daconil and a copper based fungicide are used to control it. If you spray, alternate between the two for best results. Do it weekly, or if you don’t have a bad problem, every other week.

And, what I’ve fond that really helps is a systemic. The fungicide is absorbed via the roots and carried up into the needle to stop it where it starts: in the needle. The sprays just keep it from spreading. The fungus inside the needle is largely unaffected by the sprays.

The system I use is Clearys 3336. It’s a granular lawn fungicide. It comes in large bags, 75 lbs, for spreading on the lawn. A product with the same active ingredient available on Amazon in smaller quantities is Bonide Infuse Systemic Fungicide. Spread a bit on the soil of all your pines while the candles are extending. That way it will be there when the needles start growing, and hopefully, they will be needlecast free!

If you decandle your JBP in the summer, give these trees a second dose about 2 weeks after you decandle. That will treat the second flush.

This, along with a good spraying program, will help you prevent needlecast.

One final tip, Neeflecast thrives on humid, damp, and places where there is restricted air movement. So, keep your pines out in the sun where they are exposed to the breeze. This keeps their foliage dry. And, if possible, try not to wet the foliage when you water your trees, and try not to water late in the evening when the moisture can just hang around all night.

I just treated all mine, and thought it might be helpful for others.

One more tip: i water my trees first. Then go around and put between a teaspoonful to a tablespoonful on each tree, sprinkled all around the soil. Then come back an do a light watering in. Easy Peasy!
good reminder! thanks for posting. I just did my 2 pines last week for the first time this year
 

River's Edge

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Needlecast is always present in the Pacific Northwest area. Our cool damp winters and springs are ideal for its spread. I have found that prevention is the key and systemic applications in this situation works the best. Cleary 3666 works for me.
Daconyl works fine if used repeatedly as recommended. That is from my understanding spray once every two weeks during the wet humid time when the buds are first opening until the weather dry's up. So depending on your location that may mean one treatment, or three treatments.
The reason the sprays can be seen as ineffective is that the spores are present all the time and new outbreaks are simply waiting for the right conditions. Treating when those conditions are present is the most effective control. Missing one of those wet periods when the buds are opening and they are at there most vulnerable stage, it gets a start again.

Bonsai have very different root structures, very different foliage, both are highly developed , not very far apart and cannot be compared to landscape specimens. Systemic is very difficult and cost prohibitive in most natural settings. I would not expect it to be recommended by forestry or associated professions. I think Adair's advice and observations are spot on. At least they match both my experience and specific teaching received from professionals in the Pacific Northwest who deal with it all the time.
 

KeithE

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Thanks Adair. Does lime sulphur in winter/early spring help with needlecast at all?
 

Adair M

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Thanks Adair. Does lime sulphur in winter/early spring help with needlecast at all?
I don’t know, specificly. Couldn’t hurt, I suppose. The time you have to be diligent is when it’s active, and that’s when the tree is growing needles.
 

GrimLore

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Thanks Adair. Does lime sulphur in winter/early spring help with needlecast at all?
I don’t know, specificly. Couldn’t hurt, I suppose. The time you have to be diligent is when it’s active, and that’s when the tree is growing needles.
I find that early Spring treatment with Daconil and a heavy watering of Sulfur/Water mix 2 tablespoons per gallon really controls most all fungal problems here. I reapply the Sulfur during heavy growth in Summer and in fall when the trees go dormant here. I only reapply the Daconil if it get washed off within the first two weeks of application.

I started out a few years ago with Fruit trees only and have since used it on everything else with good results including Junipers, Pines, etc...

I must add it helps but not does not effectively kill bacterial infections - whole different thread.

I was going to post earlier that some trees like the Weeping Blue Atlas Cedar will drop all their needles every three years but it is normal and they bud back the following Spring. It was explained to me as a normal growth cycle in these parts.

Grimmy
 

Adair M

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I find that early Spring treatment with Daconil and a heavy watering of Sulfur/Water mix 2 tablespoons per gallon really controls most all fungal problems here. I reapply the Sulfur during heavy growth in Summer and in fall when the trees go dormant here. I only reapply the Daconil if it get washed off within the first two weeks of application.

I started out a few years ago with Fruit trees only and have since used it on everything else with good results including Junipers, Pines, etc...

I must add it helps but not does not effectively kill bacterial infections - whole different thread.

I was going to post earlier that some trees like the Weeping Blue Atlas Cedar will drop all their needles every three years but it is normal and they bud back the following Spring. It was explained to me as a normal growth cycle in these parts.

Grimmy
Thanks, Grimmy!

The key thing is this needs to be treated before it happens! Because once it’s in the needle, there’s little that can be done. And, unfortunately, it will spread.
 

GrimLore

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Thanks, Grimmy!

The key thing is this needs to be treated before it happens! Because once it’s in the needle, there’s little that can be done. And, unfortunately, it will spread.
I agree 100 percent and noted the Sulfur treatment to the substrate as I find over the years most fungal problems are related to it. For example Cedar Rust and other rust(s) go airborne and spread but intitially start in the substrate almost always weather, water, light, and air movement issues to start.

Grimmy
 

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