State forestry officials say they're hearing reports across southern Minnesota this spring of some spruce, arborvitae and other evergreens that appear to die suddenly. They say they know why and it's possible the trees may recover.
The trees are suffering from severe winter drying, which can affect many types of evergreens, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources said Thursday.
"This year in late April, there were warm, windy days with low relative humidity that caused needles to lose moisture. Frozen soil in the root zone of these trees prevented water from moving back into the needles to replace the lost moisture," the DNR said in a statement.
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In the most extreme cases, spruce shed needles in the upper 90 percent of the canopy within a few days, while the bottom branches remained green. The damage was seen in Fillmore, Freeborn, Chisago, Goodhue and Houston counties across southern Minnesota, the agency said.
Less severe cases on red and white pine and white spruce have been seen in Minnesota's Arrowhead region, the DNR said, noting "branches buried under the snow on those days remained alive because they were not exposed to the warm, windy, and dry environment."
While the situation might seem grim, DNR officials say it's best at this point to wait and see how your tree does this spring. If it still has 50 percent or more of the canopy, it may recover.