Pine trees losing their needles can be a natural process. A conifer generally makes new needles in the spring and summer seasons. These newly produced needles will last about 2 or 3 years before they too will be replaced by fresh, new needles. The needles of a conifer serve the same purpose that the leaves of deciduous trees do: producing food for the tree. As needles get older, they begin to lose their ability to adequately make this food. The needle will naturally drop off to be replaced by a more efficient food processor once it has reached “old age.”
This same question has been asked before on GreenAnswers. You can see the answers for that question here: http://greenanswers.com/q/184304/forests-trees-plants/trees/what-causes-pine-tree-lose-its-needles
While seasonal needle drop is normal, there are other reasons needles can drop. These are mites, drought, planting care, nutrition, herbicides, winter damage, wet or poorly drained soils. To determine if the needle drop is due to natural seasonal changes, you should examine carefully the needles. Needles that yellow and drop from age may have spots and blemishes or mottled brown coloration caused by nondisease-causing fungi. However, spots or blemishes on the current season’s needles may be a sign of insects or disease.
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