This past Monday, the annual ban on pruning elm trees took effect in Saskatchewan. The ban lasts until August 31st and is aimed at preventing the spread of Dutch elm disease. The ban takes effect when the elm bark beetle is known to be the most active, and attracted to the fresh pruning cuts in an elm.  

“The beetle alone really isn’t the problem, however, it is the vector for which the Dutch elm disease fungus is spread from elm tree to elm tree,” explained Curtis Block. He is the Parks Manager with the City of Weyburn. “The fungus itself basically clogs the vascular tissue of a tree which ultimately kills it. There’s no known cure, really, the only course of action is complete removal and disposal of an infected tree.” 

Those who have pruned their elm trees before the ban, but haven’t disposed of the wood, are asked to do so immediately. The wood must be taken to the landfill for disposal, as it is illegal to store and transport elm wood.  

Last year, there were 43 cases of Dutch elm disease, resulting in the complete removal of the tree, in Weyburn. This accounted for more than a quarter of the 111 trees removed due to Dutch elm disease since 2017.  

If anyone has questions about a possibly infected tree, or if they need to identify if they have an elm tree in their yard, they can contact the City of Weyburn.  

“Just give us a call,” Block said. “We’d be glad to come help identify if it is an elm. If they need help, if their elm is showing symptoms of Dutch elm disease, that does take another step to send samples away for laboratory analysis, but we can definitely assist in that process.”