Dutch Elm Disease looming, maybe. Should I fight it?

Questions on how we spend our money and our time - consumer goods and services, home and vehicle, leisure and recreational activities
Post Reply
Topic Author
psteinx
Posts: 3570
Joined: Tue Mar 13, 2007 2:24 pm

Dutch Elm Disease looming, maybe. Should I fight it?

Post by psteinx »

We have a very attractive, large, mature tree that I believe to be an Elm. It's got two main trunks, each about 15 inches in diameter (and at least one smaller trunk as well), ~50' high, leafy, broad top. I really like the tree.

Dutch Elm has apparently been marching up towards us, and there are two trees, one about 50' from ours, and another ~30' beyond that, that are dying (maybe dead), apparently of Dutch Elm.

I'm not a tree guy, but there are no obvious signs of major problems with our tree.

Is it reasonable to expect that our (probable) Elm can probably be saved? Should I get a tree guy out here? Are there treatments/preventative measures that I can do relatively easily by myself?

We're in St. Louis County, Missouri.

I did a little online reading, though at least one thing I was reading was very old.

I don't necessarily want to spend a lot of money and effort if the cause is more or less hopeless, but I'm open to taking reasonable measures if they're reasonably likely to make the difference in saving the tree.
Last edited by psteinx on Wed Jul 19, 2017 12:20 pm, edited 2 times in total.
GoldenFinch
Posts: 2329
Joined: Mon Nov 10, 2014 11:34 pm

Re: Dutch Elm Disease looming, maybe. Should I fight it?

Post by GoldenFinch »

Where I live many Elm trees have avoided Dutch Elm with treatment although some have not. If you go the treatment route, you may still want to plant another shade tree nearby just in case it doesn't work out. Good luck with your efforts.
Dottie57
Posts: 9536
Joined: Thu May 19, 2016 5:43 pm
Location: Earth Northern Hemisphere

Re: Dutch Elm Disease looming, maybe. Should I fight it?

Post by Dottie57 »

psteinx wrote:We have a very attractive, large, mature tree that I believe to be an Elm. It's perhaps 14-18 inch diameter (maybe more), ~50' high, leafy, broad top. I really like the tree.

Dutch Elm has apparently been marching up towards us, and there are two trees, one about 50' from ours, and another ~30' beyond that, that are dying (maybe dead), apparently of Dutch Elm.

I'm not a tree guy, but there are no obvious signs of major problems with our tree.

Is it reasonable to expect that our (probable) Elm can probably be saved? Should I get a tree guy out here? Are there treatments/preventative measures that I can do relatively easily by myself?

We're in St. Louis County, Missouri.

I did a little online reading, though at least one thing I was reading was very old.

I don't necessarily want to spend a lot of money and effort if the cause is more or less hopeless, but I'm open to taking reasonable measures if they're reasonably likely to make the difference in saving the tree.

The area I live in lost most of its elms. I personally would pay to have the elm treated , before it shows problems. I love mature elms and oaks. It takes a very long time to grow a decent sized tree.
User avatar
Kenkat
Posts: 6862
Joined: Thu Mar 01, 2007 11:18 am
Location: Cincinnati, OH

Re: Dutch Elm Disease looming, maybe. Should I fight it?

Post by Kenkat »

I can't speak to Elm treatments, but I have been so far successfully able to battle the emerald ash borer. I have a large ash tree in my yard in a critical place for shade and privacy that I have had professionally treated via trunk injection every other year at a cost of around $150. I also have a large and two medium ash trees along my back property line in a small wooded area that I treat myself via soil drench every year at a cost of around $20 per tree. So far so good - lots of dead ash trees in my area sadly.

I would try to get some estimates from a few arborists to see if it is cost effective to treat the tree. It takes so long to replace a fully grown tree with something new, so it is worth saving if the cost of treatment is reasonable.
Swansea
Posts: 1016
Joined: Sat Feb 13, 2016 5:16 am

Re: Dutch Elm Disease looming, maybe. Should I fight it?

Post by Swansea »

There is a fact sheet from the Ohio State University Extension service on DED...Agriculture and Natural Resources HYG-3308-08
Alf 101
Posts: 364
Joined: Wed Sep 01, 2010 11:24 am

Re: Dutch Elm Disease looming, maybe. Should I fight it?

Post by Alf 101 »

I would say this depends how much you value the tree. In an analogous case, we preemptively had a large ash in our yard treated for emerald ash borer. We started this right when we bought the house, maybe 8-9 years ago, and have continued with injections at the prescribed intervals. This amounts to around $200 every other year. Yet this is a very large ash tree on the south side of the property, that gives excellent service in shading the main living areas of the home in the summer.

My $0.02 is you should contact a number of licensed arborists, for consults and estimates. They should be able to tell you the prognosis, options, and costs involved for your situation. Perhaps they could offer fertilization, or other sensible tree health treatments. I believe this is your plan already, so go for it. It does take a long time to grow a large healthy tree.

I would be curious how much the cost estimates vary between the different arborists you contact. I've found it worth contacting 3-5 different services because of this.
User avatar
dm200
Posts: 23148
Joined: Mon Feb 26, 2007 2:21 pm
Location: Washington DC area

Re: Dutch Elm Disease looming, maybe. Should I fight it?

Post by dm200 »

Wow.

We lost elms in my home area of NY State 45-60 years ago.

First, make 100% sure this is an elm.

Over the decades, what I saw was that all efforts eventually failed - and the tree was lost. These efforts sometimes kept the tree alive longer, but the tree was ultimately lost.
clutchied
Posts: 677
Joined: Mon Jan 05, 2015 12:11 pm

Re: Dutch Elm Disease looming, maybe. Should I fight it?

Post by clutchied »

Kenkat wrote:I can't speak to Elm treatments, but I have been so far successfully able to battle the emerald ash borer. I have a large ash tree in my yard in a critical place for shade and privacy that I have had professionally treated via trunk injection every other year at a cost of around $150. I also have a large and two medium ash trees along my back property line in a small wooded area that I treat myself via soil drench every year at a cost of around $20 per tree. So far so good - lots of dead ash trees in my area sadly.

I would try to get some estimates from a few arborists to see if it is cost effective to treat the tree. It takes so long to replace a fully grown tree with something new, so it is worth saving if the cost of treatment is reasonable.

thanks for fighting the borer, we've really had a rough go out here in the Dayton area.

It makes me really sad to see them go. I lost one bore I even knew what it was. 75 year old tree.... poof.
User avatar
lthenderson
Posts: 5422
Joined: Tue Feb 21, 2012 12:43 pm
Location: Iowa

Re: Dutch Elm Disease looming, maybe. Should I fight it?

Post by lthenderson »

Unless you it is a very isolated elm tree, I doubt that this is Dutch Elm disease. It first came to our area in the 1960's and rarely do you see any elm tree survive to that size unless it is very isolated, i.e. in a rural location with no trees around.

I'm guessing you have an ash tree and those trees down the block are being killed by the Emerald Ash borer which is in the midwest right now and killing ash trees left and right. (Both of mine died last year.) If indeed it is an ash, it can be protected but be warned it is a life of the tree commitment right now. It has to be inoculated every couple years and if you miss a dose, the tree will succumb to the disease. I chose to instead spend that money on replacement trees that are hardy to our area and don't need biannual treatments to stay alive.
TheGreyingDuke
Posts: 1821
Joined: Fri Sep 02, 2011 10:34 am

Re: Dutch Elm Disease looming, maybe. Should I fight it?

Post by TheGreyingDuke »

Friends of ours in the Champlain Valley, Vermont have a huge, healthy American Elm in their yard even though all the other elms in the area were wiped out long ago. They have had researchers come out and examine the tree, I think it is being used in some small way to develop a Dutch Elm-resistant strain.
"Every time I see an adult on a bicycle, I no longer despair for the future of the human race." H.G. Wells
mrc
Posts: 1473
Joined: Sun Jan 10, 2016 6:39 am

Re: Dutch Elm Disease looming, maybe. Should I fight it?

Post by mrc »

First things first -- determine the species. This guide can help, leaves of elms and ashes are different enough. Of your trees, and the neighbors. Ash trees are dying out now.
By the time you know enough to choose a good financial adviser, you don't need one. | bogleheads.org is my advisor: The ER is 0.0% and the advice always solid.
c078342
Posts: 103
Joined: Mon Jun 15, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Dutch Elm Disease looming, maybe. Should I fight it?

Post by c078342 »

Grew up in western NY in the '50's and '60's, when we lost tons of elms. There was no treatment then. At our country club in central Conn, we still have a few elms, but have lost 2 big guys over the last 10 years or so. There are still a few, which we treat. The one on the 11th tee is huge and will be missed when it goes, as unfortunately, I fear it will soon. THe treatment I think is a stopgap. Good luck.
Chip
Posts: 3172
Joined: Wed Feb 21, 2007 4:57 am

Re: Dutch Elm Disease looming, maybe. Should I fight it?

Post by Chip »

lthenderson wrote:Unless you it is a very isolated elm tree, I doubt that this is Dutch Elm disease. It first came to our area in the 1960's and rarely do you see any elm tree survive to that size unless it is very isolated, i.e. in a rural location with no trees around.
Not all areas of the country have been affected. I live in a suburban area in the midwest with woods next to my house. I have a healthy 60' American elm right next to my house.

To quote from Sibley's Guide to Trees: Some regions have not been infected and still support large groves of healthy trees.
GoldenFinch
Posts: 2329
Joined: Mon Nov 10, 2014 11:34 pm

Re: Dutch Elm Disease looming, maybe. Should I fight it?

Post by GoldenFinch »

Chip wrote:
lthenderson wrote:Unless you it is a very isolated elm tree, I doubt that this is Dutch Elm disease. It first came to our area in the 1960's and rarely do you see any elm tree survive to that size unless it is very isolated, i.e. in a rural location with no trees around.
Not all areas of the country have been affected. I live in a suburban area in the midwest with woods next to my house. I have a healthy 60' American elm right next to my house.

To quote from Sibley's Guide to Trees: Some regions have not been infected and still support large groves of healthy trees.
Very true. Our area was decimated by Dutch Elm, thousand of trees lost, yet some Dutch Elm trees still survive and look just fine.
Topic Author
psteinx
Posts: 3570
Joined: Tue Mar 13, 2007 2:24 pm

Re: Dutch Elm Disease looming, maybe. Should I fight it?

Post by psteinx »

So, I had a tree guy out today.

To my recollection and understanding of our conversation:

He confirmed that our tree is an elm.

He presumed (as did I), that the 2 nearby trees (and a 3rd he spotted) were elms, with Dutch Elm. (We didn't walk over into/across neighboring backyards for closer inspection, but it seems fairly obvious.

He said it could be treated with injection, but if the Dutch Elm disease is already in the tree, that won't help. He said our tree shows some signs that could indicate the beginning of Dutch Elm (some leaf curling and falling off the tree), but it could also be a result of recent heat and dryness.

I asked him what the chances of treatment working would be, and offered 50/50 - he went along with that #. (Mistake on my part - should not have offered my own layman's number first - anchoring and all that...)

He said treatment would be about $500 or maybe a bit less, and last probably 2 years. (Multi-stemmed elm, 2 large ~15" stems, and a smaller stem off to the side. Conceivably there are yet more small trunks. We didn't walk up to the base - it's a little tricky to access...)

Based on numbers that I think I've seen here*, and also based on some numbers he was ballparking for other tree-related services, I suspect his company is a bit on the pricey side, but also perhaps a bit more professional than your average "guy with a truck" who messes around with trees.

*EDIT - both numbers by prior posters in this thread were for Emerald Ash Borer treatment, not Dutch Elm. Perhaps the chemicals are pricier for Dutch Elm and/or my tree is bigger. Still, $500 sounds a bit high for a chemical application to a single (admittedly large) tree...

Not sure what our course of action will be. Will probably wait to see a quote he said he'd send me, and discuss with my wife.

~$500 every 2 years is a lot for a single (admittedly large and nice) tree, especially when it may not work. OTOH, maybe we get it treated for the next 4 years or so, and if its still around and healthy, stop further treatments (because by then the immediate threat from other nearby infected elms should be diminished...) We've been in the house for a bit over 21 years, and this was a big tree even when we moved in. If we can get over the short term hump, maybe I can revert to ignoring the issue. Dunno...
Topic Author
psteinx
Posts: 3570
Joined: Tue Mar 13, 2007 2:24 pm

Re: Dutch Elm Disease looming, maybe. Should I fight it?

Post by psteinx »

Found this article:

http://duluthreader.com/articles/2017/0 ... ee-92304-1

with some numbers on Dutch Elm treatment costs in Duluth.

From the numbers mentioned in the article, a $500 cost for a large tree does not seem out of line. Apparently it's not a pricey provider, but rather a pricey treatment in general. :(
Post Reply