|picture of "cotton" on pine submitted|
A. This cotton on the end of the limbs is the natural color of the buds on the ends of shoots and branches as they expand into new growth.
The white color or cotton as you call it are the sheaths that enclose the bottom of the new needles as they expand. The buds first expand and grow longer and wider. Depending on the health of the tree, this expansion can be fairly short, an inch to an inch and a half or quite long, perhaps up to 4 inches.
In this stage they are called "candles" because they resemble a small thin candle at the end of the branch. Pines are somewhat unique in that all of the needles of the new growth are contained in this candle. Pine tree candlesbefore they expand
The amount of new growth and how dense the canopy is can be managed by breaking these candles with your fingers. Do not cut them or you will damage the needles emerging from the candle.
|Pine candle before it expands|
If you want to keep the tree smaller, you would break about half of the candle off when it emerges. This removes half of the new growth that can develop and causes more side branching to occur, thus making the canopy more dense
This is a handy management tool if you are using these trees for screening or windbreaks. So what I'm saying is not to be alarmed, this is a normal for this tree.