Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Dutch Elm Disease in Carlyle

I've noticed Arcola's trees a lot this year. First there were the aphids on the Manitoba maples, stripping some trees bare, dripping fluids all over parked vehicles, and threatening the cancellation of the United Church's annual outdoor service in the backyard of the manse. The manse trees were sprayed, but in the end, the service was moved indoors anyway because of mosquitoes.

Then there was the wild, window-bending storm (yes, I could see the glass bending in the living room window) that whipped the top branches of our elm into contact with the three-phase power line, creating a ten-minute light show with showers of sparks, and leaving a neat line of brown leaves across the top of the tree as the only evidence next morning. The trees were trimmed away from the power lines just a year or so ago, but not far enough for a wind like that. I've been looking at our two elms out front several times since then, wondering what can be done. They are just too big for our narrow front yard; they will keep growing back up into the power lines, and after a trim they have a grotesque leaned-back shape.

And now I hear that Dutch Elm Disease has been found just down the road, in Carlyle. Now I'm wondering how many elms we have in Arcola. My first guess would be that we have a lot more Manitoba maples and green ash than elms, but I'll have to look around. I'll also be checking with the town office to see if they have considered any response to the disease. When we lived in Regina, the cankerworms kept reminding us to take care of our elms, but here, I haven't seen any cankerworms, and I've hardly noticed the elms at all. They're just there, taken for granted except when they get tangled up with a power line and light up a stormy night.

- update - I got to wondering what to do with elm wood. I've seen lots of warnings about not transporting elm firewood, and I found statements that you should not store it but dispose of it properly, but what does that mean? I had to hunt for this: you should remove dead wood before April 1st, and bury, burn or debark it. The trouble with leaving the dead wood around is that it provides habitat for the bark beetles. They in turn carry fungus spores that infect the trees, causing DED.

I also found out that there is an Elm Research Institute breeding and distributing DED-resistant elms, known as "the Liberty Elm." Good news.

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