heavy needle lose on white spruce

The lower branches of my white spruce trees have dropped their needles and the branches seem to be dead. Each year the branches further up the trunk are being affected. i need these trees to help break the wind on the west side of my yard and provide shade on hot summer afternoon and evenings. Do they need more water, or fertilizer? Are they being bother by a pest of some kind? They have been planted for about 25 years.
Submitted by BHGPhotoContest

"There are several common problems on spruces that may be involved here. Cytospora canker is a fungal disease that attacks branches and stems. Examine the dead branches for evidence of oozing white sap. There is no effective control for cytospora canker other than cutting out affected areas of the tree to try to slow its spread.

Rhizosphaera needlecast is another common problem on spruces. This fungal disease usually attacks the lower branches first, but normally the tips of the branches remain green and healthy in appearance. If the inner needles are all brown, but the tips of the branches are green, suspect this disease. You can spray chlorothalonil or mancozeb when the new needles are half grown in late spring and again 3 to 4 weeks later.

Yet another possible cause of the  browning is spruce aphid. This insect attacks in late winter or early spring, but usually wouldn't be limited to the lower part of the tree. Insecticidal soap will control aphids.

Lower limb loss is also a natural occurrence o on older spruces, especially if they are planted closely together. The shade from the upper branches causes the lower ones to die out. "


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