Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Dutch Elm Disease found in Waipā

The fatal and fast spreading tree disease, Dutch Elm Disease, has been discovered in Waipā.

Tests this week have confirmed a tree on private property in Te Awamutu has the fungal disease.

Waipā District Council arborist planner, James Richardson, said Dutch Elm Disease is considered to be one of the most devastating tree diseases in the world.

It is spread by Elm bark beetles who carry the fungus from an infected tree and bore into new trees nearby. It can also be spread to other Elm’s via the trees’ connected root systems, movement of firewood or by contaminated pruning tools. It does not affect trees unrelated to the Elm species.

“It is very concerning to have confirmation the disease is now in Waipā. We will be working closely with Waikato Regional Council, SPS Biosecurity and Environmental Services, the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI), local arborists, Cambridge Tree Trust and the community to limit the spread of the disease,” said Mr Richardson.

An infected Elm tree can die in as little as three weeks, or over two to three years, he said.

Symptoms develop quickly within a four-to-five-week period and signs of the disease include wilting, curling, yellowing of leaves or dying or dead branches. There is no known cure for infected trees.

“When removing the infected trees, all material should be immediately chipped, burnt or buried on site or at a landfill site, incorrect processing can spread the disease further. People should contact MPI if they suspect their Elm trees to be infected,” Mr Richardson said.

Elms can be identified by their large leaves, which feature serrated edges, symmetrical veins, an asymmetrical leaf base and feels like sandpaper.

Council says the next step will be to collaborate with SPS Biosecurity and Environmental Services to monitor the spread of the disease.

The Council has more than 250 Elm trees it maintains in parks and streets. Staff will be monitoring and assessing them regularly to identify any trees with the disease early and manage any actions required, Mr Richardson said.

If residents suspect the disease is present on an Elm tree, please report it to MPI’s Exotic Pest and Disease Hotline on 0800 80 99 66.

For more information visit, waipadc.govt.nz/dutchelmdisease.

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