St. Paul, MN (KROC-AM News) - The harsh and lengthy winter that visited the region this year is apparently killing off some pine trees. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources says its forest health team has recently received reports of spruce white cedar and white pine suddenly dying in Fillmore, Freeborn, Goodhue, and Houston counties. There were also reports in east-central Minnesota near Taylor Falls.

The DNR says, in the most extreme cases, the trees shed needles in the upper 90-percent of the canopy over a few days and the branches become brittle. In less severe cases, the needles in the upper half of the canopy are lost.

Experts say these are severe examples of winter drying, which struck in April when warm, dry and windy conditions were common and the still frozen soil prevented the trees from moving water through their root system to replenish moisture to the dried out branches and needles. The branches that survived were most often those buried under snow from the late winter storms last month.

DNR officials say some of the affected trees could recover, particularly in cases where less than 50-percent of the needles were lost.

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