In our pine workgroup this fall, our focus was on removing old needles. Tak pointed out that trees could have 1st, 2nd and 3rd year needles on them. Under his direction we removed any 3rd year needles that had not dropped yet, and plucked all the second year needles. It is important to pull the needles out in the direction they grow to avoid damaging the dormant buds near where the needles emerge. Alternatively, you can cut the needles from the tree leaving 1/8th of an inch of needle in place. Removing old needles opens the tree up, encouraging tree health and interior bud development.