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Fall Needle Drop in Evergreens


This page was adapted from the article, "Fall Needle Drop in Evergreens – This is Normal," which appeared in Crop & Pest Report on September 8, 2021.

Starting in late August and early September, we often get a lot of calls and emails regarding evergreen needles turning brown or yellow. It’s the older, inner needles that are dying. This is actually normal and can be found in pines, spruces, arborvitae, and sometimes junipers.

Those older needles get shaded out by the newest growth, and become unproductive. The tree then sheds these needles; we’ve seen this happen as early as August though the situation is starting to increase across the state.

Pines hold their needles for 3-5 years before shedding them. Spruces usually hold on longer, about 5-8 years. What we’re seeing is normal, and it’s nothing to worry about.

Ponderosa pine in Bismarck showing normal fall needle drop


Joe Zeleznik
NDSU Extension Forestry Specialist