Dutch Elm Disease Infecting Dozens of Local Trees

By: Paige Lambrecht
By: Paige Lambrecht

It's a busy week for city workers in Stevens Point. They're inspecting hundreds of elm trees. They're looking for brown streaks in the wood and brown streaking is not what they want to find. It means the tree has Dutch Elm Disease, and this year a lot more trees than normal are infected.

Stevens Point forester Todd Ernster says two years of drought and this spring's cold and wet weather are to blame.

"So the trees were stressed. Then it was wet and it was an ideal condition for the fungus to grow."

The disease isn't just affecting the Stevens Point area and it can spread quickly between elm trees. That's why experts warn homeowners to check your own trees. One of the tell-tale signs of Dutch Elm Disease are yellow leaves, but experts say that doesn't have to mean a death sentence for your elm tree.

As long as less than 15 percent of the tree is infected, just those limbs can be removed, and the tree can be saved. You can also call your local forester about fungicides. If sprayed around the base of an elm tree, they can ward off Dutch Elm Disease for up to three years.

Ernster says he hopes more people will take this preventative step so he doesn't have to cut down more trees.

"It's one of my least favorite parts of the job is this part. I'd much rather plant a tree,” he says.

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