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why do river birch leaves turn yellow

Birch trees require iron to grow and produce leaves. If your birch isn't receiving sufficient iron, the leaves of your birch tree will emerge as yellow and may be stunted or contorted. The confusing part is that your soil may contain sufficient iron: Iron chlorosis occurs if the iron isn't available in a form that the birch's root system absorbs. Iron chlorosis is common in river birch trees. Spraying the birch with iron folate will solve the immediate problem, but you should test your soil to ensure the long-term issue is addressed to avoid future yellowing of the birch's leaves.

To make the soil less alkaline, spread 2 to 4 inches of compost. Alternately, inject the birch's trunk with iron cholate or iron sulfate. This approach solves the immediate problem and typically lasts for up to two years.
Bronze birch borers (Agrilus anxius) are pests that may lead to yellowed leaves on birch trees.

While these pests are more drawn to white birches, river birch trees are not immune. These borers display green-bronze to black adult bodies. Both adults and the light-hued, flat-headed larvae measure approximately 1/2 inch in length. Adults lay eggs in tree grooves and openings. Hatched larvae tunnel into trees where they feed, overwinter and continue feeding, resulting in the yellowing and death of one or several branches, typically beginning in the tree's crown.

Home pesticides are not available for treatment. Maintain healthy trees free of wounds; larvae typically will not survive in a healthy plant, explains the Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences. Remove and destroy heavily affected branches.

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