Inoculation can protect ash trees from beetle

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If you own an ash tree, you might want to consider inoculating it against the destructive emerald ash borer.

The tree-killing beetle is believed to be in southern Bruce County, and is expected to be much more commonly found in Grey-Bruce over the next five years as it makes its way north.

“Eventually, the way the insect is moving, we're going to have the emerald ash borer up here probably almost guaranteed within five years,” said Jim Penner, manager of forestry with Saugeen Conservation.

Saugeen Conservation and Grey Sauble Conservation, through the Grey Bruce Forestry Service, is making the recommendation and providing the service, although the landowner must pay for the inoculation. The cost is anywhere from $100 to $500, depending on the size of the tree, and the ash borer targets all species of ash trees.

Penner said the inoculation can protect a tree for up to two years. It involves a trained technician injecting an insecticide called TreeAzin, which degrades naturally within the tree tissues.

Penner said ash trees valued by a homeowner should be protected. “If it fits well in their landscape and they want to retain it, then definitely they should be having it inoculated,” he said.

Municipalities should also consider protecting ash trees in cemeteries, campgrounds and along trails, because they can be dangerous once they become infected. Branches and limbs can break off as the tree's health declines, he said.

Late last year a young Bruce County logger was killed when a dead ash tree fell on him.

Saugeen Conservation will inoculate ash trees at its Saugeen Bluffs campground near Paisley because of the danger factor, Penner said. As many as half of the trees in the campground are ash trees, he said.

“With people camping underneath, it's not a very safe situation. So we're going to take the steps to try and protect those trees because we look at them as high value trees.”

The other precautionary option is to take the ash trees down before they become infected. Penner said once a tree is infected, some loggers won't take them down because they're too unstable.

The emerald ash borer first made its appearance in North America about 20 years ago and has killed between 50 and 100 million ash trees. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has recently added Bruce County to its list of locations where the insect has recently been found and has regulated the movement of all ash material within the county.

Penner said the designation means ash wood from the south, like Windsor for instance, can now be brought into Bruce County, which “will hasten the spread of the insect.”

For information on the inoculation service, visit the websites of Saugeen and Grey Sauble conservations.

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