The Q&A Archives: Leaf Deformation on Cork-Bark Fir

Question: We have a 12-foot tall cork-bark fir planted 7 years ago in a slightly raised berm. For the past 3 to 4 years the needles on the lower half have gotten increasingly curled, deformed and sticking out at odd angles. We were told by the landscape companyto deep root water it, which we did with no improvment. I tried spraying the tree with a strong stream of water once or twice a week with no results. A sample was taken to the Colorado Extension Service who said there was no evidence of any insect infestation, but that it might be caused by drift from weed killer being sprayed in the neighborhood. What do you suggest? Thanks for your help. Dick Leupold Boulder, CO

Answer: It sounds like you've done all you can to figure out what's infecting your fir tree. If the Extension Service didn't see any signs of insect damage, then I'd agree that it's probably an environmental stress (wind, drought...) or herbicide drift. This spring check the buds carefully early, before you see the symptoms. Look for any small insects in the bud clusters. Perhaps by the time you showed the Extension Service the buds, the insects had left. If you see small, soft-bodied insects, consdierspraying the buds with insecticidal soap. I'm sorry I couldn't help further.

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