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Pruning Spruce & Pine in a Windbreak

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From: David Walters
Lewisberry, PA
I planted alternating rows of blue spruce & white pine (8-10 ft. apart) along a property line about 15 yrs. ago. It appears that the pines are now blocking the sunlight and the spruces are dying back on one side. If I prune the pines back some this winter, will the blue spruces recover/develop new growth?

Extension Message
From: Jay Hayek
Extension Specialist, Forestry
Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences
Greetings David:

As you mentioned, the density and competition for direct sunlight is causing some of your blue spruce trees to physiologically shed their needles along the density- and light-affected regions of the tree (blue spruce is considered intermediate in shade tolerance which is why these trees are exhibiting signs of branch die-back--assuming no other biological factors are affecting these spruce trees).

In order to alleviate some of these density and light effects, pruning and or thinning may be required. Pruning and thinning operations, as you mentioned, should typically occur during the dormant season to negate the biologically active effects of growing season pests and pathogens.

In order to assist you with this effort, might I suggest you contact a local PADCNR forester for an on-site assessment.

Best of luck!

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