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Letters to the Editor

Tree care professional: Be careful when treating EAB

To the editor:

I was surprised to learn the Emerald Ash Borer was discovered in Newton in late March. 

I didn’t expect to hear that news for a couple more years. I’ve had several conversations with individuals in the last week about the EAB and thought I should write a letter since most individuals think it automatically means their ash tree(s) will die.

There are basically two courses of action when dealing with the EAB. First, you can effectively treat ash trees for EAB, and a reputable firm licensed and certified applicator by the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship.

This requires a periodic annual or two year treatment for the trees. These treatments must be continued for several years long after the infestation has passed. If you don’t treat the tree, there is only a stroke of luck it may survive.  

Untreated trees in areas with EAB infestations will eventually die. The second course of action is to wait for the tree to perish and then be removed.

The City of Newton will have to decide about trees in their rights-of-way and on city property. This is to protect the public body from liability to persons or vehicles parked along the street.  

Likewise, the county will have to take action on trees on county property, i.e. county parks, for the same reason. Will they wait until trees show signs of failure or, will they be removing trees before they show signs of stress in their tree removal program? 

Some of the questions we are fielding are from individuals who are willing to pay for the treatment of trees, but fear the city will preemptively remove the trees.

The City Council will be meeting soon to discuss this matter. Hopefully, they will soon have an established policy regarding treated trees being spared from the preemptive tree removal program.

My recommendation to the council will be that that non-invaded trees on city property be treated by a licensed commercial applicator and registered with the city.

I recently had a conversation with State Sen. Dennis Black, who has a graduate degree in Forest Management and has been following the EAB issue closely. 

His comment was,  “If a tree is imperative to retain, due to its size, history, beauty or locaion, then an EAB inoculation treatment ‘may’ be a good investment. However, this is only viable by injection directly into the phloem and xylem in the cambium at the base of the tree,  and under no circumstances should anyone be ‘sold the goods’ on drenching the roots or topical spray to the main trunk, which only serves to expose pets and humans and the environment with potentially harmful chemical.”

Senator Black and I are both concerned with the possibility of some homeowners overly applying any product that gets poured around the base of the tree trunk.  Researchers fail to know the long-term effects this will cause on environment.

If you have any concerns please contact a professional company in the tree industry or me at (641) 236-5578.

Joe Sumner


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