Leland Cypress Needle Drop

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This time of year leyland cypress shed their older needles. Needle drop, or needle shedding, is more pronounced this year than in past years. Typically, leyland cypress trees keep needles for three years before senescing. Due to shading and age, these three year old needles turn brown and drop or shed. The individual branches with green healthy growth on the outward portion of the branch with the interior needles being brown is normal. Although this process of shedding old needles happens annually, this year seems to be more dramatic than normal. Many homeowners have contacted the Caldwell Cooperative Extension Center with concern for their trees. Understanding the normal process of needle shedding puts these concerns to rest.

Although our overwhelming call for the past two weeks has been related to leyland cypress needle drop, there have been a few other questions I thought would be of interest.

Question: My leyland cypress have small pea sized growths on the tips. Do you know what this is?

Answer: Leyland cypress trees flower occasionally. Like all the trees in the cypress family, leyland cypress are monoecious, meaning there are both male trees and female trees. The pea sized growth shown in the picture will eventually produce a non-showy flower. If the tree is female, cones will develop from the pollinated flowers.

Leyland cypress are popular trees in the home landscape. Though rare, these trees sometimes flower producing small non-showy male or female flowers. Picture courtesy of Leighandra Fitzgerald

Leyland cypress are popular trees in the home landscape. Though rare, these trees sometimes flower producing small non-showy male or female flowers. Picture courtesy of Leighandra Fitzgerald

If the tree is male, the flowers will drop off after producing pollen. However, a leyland cypress is a hybrid cross of Cupressaceae x Cupressocyparis species. This cross does not produce viable seed.

Question: Can industrial hemp be grown legally in North Carolina?

Answer: Industrial hemp is a useful plant. Hemp is a source of natural fiber used mainly to make cloth, rope, and paper. The seeds are also reported to be nutritionally dense and are often served roasted. Industrial hemp is typically defined as having less than 0.3% of delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in any part of the plant. This is the compound that produces the psychotropic effect associated with marijuana.

In the past, hemp was a valuable raw commodity. During World War II, the Philippine Islands fell into Japanese hands, stopping the export of hemp to the United States. Hemp was needed for the war effort. American farmers were encouraged to grow hemp. The United States Department of Agriculture produced a short promotional film called “Hemp for Victory”. The film can be viewed on youtube.

Commercial hemp production in the United States ceased in 1957. Federal laws regulating cannabis (marijuana) production made hemp production illegal. However, all things become new again with time. On January 3, 2014 Congress signed the “Agricultural Act of 2014”. This act is better known as the farm bill. Section 7606 of the farm bill allows for individual State Agriculture Departments to sanction the production of hemp for research purposes. Kentucky has taken initial steps toward legal hemp production for research purposes.

However, growing hemp is currently illegal in North Carolina. Even in Kentucky, permits are required to grow hemp legally, and permits are only issued for research purposes. Future laws may allow for hemp to be grown legally in the United States, but for now it remains illegal to grow.

Written By

Photo of Seth NagySeth NagyCounty Extension Director (828) 757-1290 seth_nagy@ncsu.eduCaldwell County, North Carolina
Updated on Dec 12, 2015
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