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Attack on ash trees

May 19, 2010
By Stephanie Bethke-DeJaeghere

This is one of the time that your questions have lead me to write about a particular column this week. Ash trees. There are few of us who probably didn't have this happen this past week and I was witness to this phenomena as many of you were. Did your Ash trees seem to have green leaves raining down upon your lawn in the past few days or so? My first thought was, Uh oh, there will be questions about this, that is for sure. Then, the calls started to come in about other trees, too, doing the same thing. I have three beautiful ash trees in the front of my house which provide much needed shade during our hot, hot summers and the thought of Emerald Ash borer makes me sick just as it does many of you. However, this time, those leaves falling ever so gently down to the earth where not caused by the little green bug.

The calls were coming in from all over southwestern Minnesota and as far north as Morris. We all have been seeing our ash trees as well as other trees, elms, honeylocust and any other trees that had just unfurled their leaves before the cold temperatures hit us Mother Day weekend. The cold temps along with a disease called Anthracnose is to blame, this time for our leaves falling from our trees. The leaf pile was enough that I could have raked up the leaves from my yard. It seemed rather strange to see so many fall but this is not the first time this has happened.

The unusually warm temperatures in April, then followed by cool, wet rainy weather and a killing frost set many of our trees up to loose leaves. They will be okay. The chances of them dying are slim. They may, in fact, set out a second flush of new leaves yet this spring. There really isn't much to do other then rake the leaves up or mulch them up in your lawn mower. If your Ash tree was infected by the Emerald Ash borer, you wouldn't see things quite so dramatically. You would probably be looking up into the canopy of your tree and wondering what is going on because the canopy is thinning out. The first year you would see this along with a lot more woodpecker activity. There is a great website that you can access through the Minnesota Department of Agriculture which will lead you to diagnosing, first if the tree that is sick is an Ash tree, and then second if your tree has symptoms of Emerald Ash Borer.

At this point, and as far as the experts know, we do not have Emerald Ash borer in this part of the state. If you think you have it, then the website will guide you through some steps on what to do. It is not time to panic yet. The insecticides that are for sale are expensive and it is far, far better to wait for official word that it is within a mile of your residence before starting a program of spraying.

For more information about gardening, you can reach me at



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