MINNEAPOLIS / ST. PAUL (6/24/2004) -- There is no silver bullet for Dutch elm disease, but that doesn’t mean America’s most majestic tree should go down without a fight. There are ways to combat this aggressive disease wreaking havoc on boulevards all across the Twin Cities metro area, said Gary Johnson, a professor of urban forestry at the University of Minnesota and urban tree care specialist with the University of Minnesota Extension Service.
According to Johnson, anyone who suspects Dutch elm disease has crept into their back yard should consult a forestry professional. Help is available through city foresters, the University of Minnesota Forest Resources Extension and private consultants.
“If you don’t do anything about it, you run the risk of infecting your entire neighborhood,” he said.
In both Minneapolis and St. Paul, city foresters can be found through the Park and Recreation Board (Minneapolis: (612) 370-4900, St. Paul: (651) 632-5129). They will inspect trees on private property free of charge and recommend a plan of action if they are indeed infected.
The telltale sign of Dutch elm disease is when the tree’s leaves turn yellow-brown, starting at branch tips and working inward. If symptoms show up early in the growing season and an arborist intervenes immediately, there is a chance of controlling the disease and saving the elm.
In fact, in Minneapolis, where inspecting for Dutch elm disease is mandated by ordinance, city foresters visit private properties whether homeowners know it or not. But this doesn’t mean they have checked every single elm tree. For this reason, homeowners need to educate themselves. A good place to start is the University of Minnesota Forest Resources Extension Web site, www.cnr.umn.edu/FR/extension. The site contains a plethora of user-friendly information about Dutch elm disease, including its history, how it spreads, and how to spot the symptoms.
“It’s good for people to know the symptomology,” said Johnson. “It’s virtually impossible for [city foresters] to keep an eye on every tree.”
The Web site will also point visitors toward information on how to save elm trees by simply keeping property free of dead, dying and diseased material.
“The only way to control the disease is to have sanitation--that is, get all infected branches and trees out of the area immediately,” said Johnson.
Another option to ward off Dutch elm disease is to hire a professional to sever the root systems between trees using strong fumigants. Although this can be costly, it’s less expensive than having an infected tree removed.
Those who lack access to the Internet can also call University of Minnesota Forest Resources Extension at (612) 624-3020.
A third option is to hire a private consultant. To obtain a list of certified arborists, visit the Minnesota Society of Arboriculture Web site, http://www.isa-msa.org.
For more information, call (612) 624-3020 or e-mail [email protected].
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