White pine only retains its needles for 2 years, then sheds the 3-year old needles. Most pines retain their older needles for 4 years, sometimes longer on western pine species. Some questions I have is what is the soil type (clay, sandy, loam), what is the pH? Is water applied during drought and at time of planting. It takes even these small seedlings at least a year or two to establish in the soil. Are the trees planted near a road with road salt applications? White pine often looks stunted for the first couple of years after transplanting, regardless of size.