SASKATOON – The pruning ban in Saskatchewan ends at the end of the month, so get ready to keep elm trees free of Dutch elm disease (DED).
Every year, pruning of elm trees is prohibited from April 1 to Aug. 31 to reduce the risk of DED. During this time, the elm bark beetles that spread the disease are most active and fresh cuts attract the insects.
Elm beetles can carry a fungus that clogs the tree’s water conducting system, which eventually kills the tree.
DED was first discovered in Saskatchewan in 1981 and continues to be found in more areas of the province.
It currently affects the southeast portion of the province spanning from Cumberland House to Tisdale to Moose Jaw and east of Estevan. The Saskatchewan forestry industry is not affected.
According to the City of Saskatoon, there is no DED present at this time in the city.
The most effective management strategy is to deprive the elm beetle it of breeding habitat. This involves removing tree waste and detached elm wood.
Starting Sept. 1, homeowners are encouraged to start pruning their American and Siberian elms.
Regular pruning, outside the ban period, helps trees resist disease, including DED.
Due to the risk of spreading DED, transporting or storing elm firewood is illegal. The Saskatchewan Ministry of Environment says there were no infractions in 2013 but a couple dozen warnings were issued and complied with.
Elm removal can occur outside the ban; however, the entire tree and stump must be removed by a trained individual with a permit.
The ministry’s insect and disease program specialist Jeff Gooliaff says civilians should get training or seek a certified arborist.
All elm wood should be disposed of by burning or burying it in a location approved by the local municipality.
In Saskatoon, the landfill is the only site approved for elm tree disposal.