Cases of Dutch Elm Diseases diagnosed in Hettinger County

Hettinger County Extension Agent Duaine Marxen has recently diagnosed some American Elms in New England with Dutch Elm Disease, and residents should keep an eye on their trees for early signs of the disease.

Posted September 12, 2014

By COLE BENZ | Herald Editor | cbenz@countrymedia.net

Hettinger County Extension Agent Duaine Marxen has recently diagnosed some American Elms in New England with Dutch Elm Disease, and residents should keep an eye on their trees for early signs of the disease.

Dutch Elm Disease (DED) is a virus carried by a little black insect called the Elm Bark Beetle. The creature is very tiny and lives in the tree where it mates and grows in population.

“It’s the Dutch Elm Disease that actually does the damage to the tree, the beetle is what carries that virus,” Marxen said.

As the beetle borrows under the bark of the tree, it spreads the virus to the it. As the virus infiltrates the tree, it does its damage by stopping the necessary nutrients from moving throughout the tree.

“It will interrupt that flow of water and nutrients up and down the tree itself,” Marxen said.

So what do you look for in trees infected with the disease?

According to Marxen, you should look up the tree and take notice of any small branches that suddenly have dead leaves, or a dead branch. This is a reaction to the virus hindering nutrients to the branches or leaves, and the it will continue to move through outthe giant plant.

Though there have been cases diagnosed with DED, some plants around the area have discolored leaves but may not be infected with DED.

According to Marxen, he has been informed that there is a type of fungus in the air this season called Leaf Blotch that can mimic some symptoms of DED.

At this point Marxen himself has diagnosed eight cases of DED in New England recently.

So what do you do if you think your tree might have DED? First you should contact a professional tree trimmer that has experience in seeing the disease. Another option would be to reach out to your county extension office for assistance in diagnosing.

What if  you do have a tree that’s infected? Unfortunately there are not methods of treatment that doesn’t result in cutting the tree down. Marxen did say there are some chemicals out there, but they’re expensive and have very low success rates, and according to him, the tree needs to come down.

“You can’t save your tree, however, if you go ahead and get yours down, you’ve got the beetle that is the problem, and he’s not able to spread to someone else’s tree, that’s really what it amounts to,” Marxen said. “It is a very good idea for your neighbors to take it down and remove, because all you are doing is harboring the insect, he’ll move on,” Marxen said.

After the tree comes down, you need to remove it away from populated areas, and areas with other American Elms, and burn it.

Burning it away from other elms reduces the risk of the beetle escaping to another victim tree.

Destruction by the disease is dependent upon the insect population, according to Marxen. If the bugs are plenty, they’ll mate at a higher rate and move to the trees quicker.

The number of American Elms is also a factor in what kind of damage, and how quickly the disease can move.

There have been cases seen by Marxen in Mott, but none in Regent.

The cases in New England have been more, but only because there are a higher number of American Elms in the community.

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