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Dutch elm disease identified in one Saskatoon tree

For immediate release: September 15, 2020 - 3:12pm
CY20-1567

One case of Dutch elm disease (DED) has been confirmed in Saskatoon. An elm sample sent to the provincial lab by the City’s Urban Biological Services staff has come back positive for DED.

In accordance with the City’s DED Response Plan, which requires immediate removal of all positive trees, crews will begin tomorrow removing the infected tree located in the Montgomery neighbourhood. Also in accordance with the City’s DED Response Plan, inspectors will follow up and search for stored firewood in yards located in Montgomery, Fairhaven, Meadowgreen and the South Industrial area in an effort to pinpoint a source. Staff will respect all physical distancing protocols as they provide the necessary inspection services.

“This discovery of Dutch elm disease demonstrates that our screening procedures and inspection program works,” says Darren Crilly, Director of Parks. “We have had success in the past with our response plan and are now taking the same aggressive action to stop it from spreading to other neighbourhoods.”

Saskatoon’s DED Response Plan requires:

  • Immediate removal of all positive trees
  • Disposal of infected trees at the City landfill
  • Sampling of adjacent trees
  • Surveillance and testing of private and public trees in the surrounding area with an intensive search for elm material and other sources of infection

“Dutch elm disease is a serious disease of the American elm,” says Jeff Boone, Entomologist. “The disease was introduced into North America in the 1930s, and has wiped out millions of elms across Canada and the United States. Dutch elm disease has been present in Saskatchewan since the 1980s and Saskatoon has not had a tree test positive for the disease since summer of 2015.”

American elm trees with Dutch elm disease may start showing symptoms as early as the month of June. Typically, the leaves will start to wilt and turn yellow, then curl and turn brown. Residents who start to notice any of these symptoms, are encouraged to call Urban Biological Services at 306-975-2890.

The most effective management strategy for DED is to not transport or store elm wood. Infected firewood is the most likely way that DED would be brought into Saskatoon.

Residents can help prevent Dutch elm disease by:

  • Not pruning elms during the provincial pruning ban (April 1 to August 31)
  • Not storing or transporting any elm firewood – provincial regulations prohibit the storing or transporting of elm firewood
  • Always dispose of any elm wood at the City Landfill

For more information on DED, visit saskatoon.ca/dutchelmdisease.