Eastern Iowa spruce trees hit with fungal infection - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Eastern Iowa spruce trees hit with fungal infection

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Tree experts have seen a rapid rise in the number of spruce trees infected with a certain fungus Tree experts have seen a rapid rise in the number of spruce trees infected with a certain fungus
DUBUQUE (KWWL) -

Spruce tree lovers, beware. A fungal infection is rapidly taking hold in spruce trees throughout eastern Iowa and especially in Dubuque.

Steve Pregler is the city forester for Dubuque. He said the infection has been around for decades, but the problem has exploded in the last couple of years.

Pregler said a wet June in 2010 plus soggy conditions last spring made perfect growing conditions for the fungus.

The disease targets a spruce tree's needles, which die and fall to the ground.

"Once a needle becomes infected, it takes 12 to 15 months for the symptoms to really develop and the needles to start being shed from the tree," Pregler said. "That causes alarm because, you know, the tree's starting to thin out. It's becoming very unsightly."

He said it's just a matter of time before all spruce trees in the Dubuque County area are exposed to the fungus. Blue spruce trees, he said, are especially susceptible.

If people want to protect their already-healthy spruce tree, Pregler recommends preventive care. He said spraying the tree regularly with a fungicide won't kill existing fungus but it will protect needles not yet infected.

If a tree is infected, Pregler said, owners should pick up the dead needles that fall to the ground and throw them away, as those contain the spores that can spread to other trees.

For more information on this infection, check out more information from Pregler HERE.

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