Dutch Elm Disease Treatment

Love needs new leaves every summer of life, as much as your elm-tree, and new branches to grow broader and wider, and new flowers to cover the ground.”

Harriet Beecher Stowe

Woodpecker Tree Care Ltd. protects elms of significant property, scenic, and historic value from Dutch Elm Disease. We use DutchTrig, an annual vaccine, to prevent Dutch Elm Disease in valuable elms. We can also offer the treatment to homeowners who value elms as much as we do.

We also offer underplanting services to those with elms already infected or otherwise unable to receive DutchTrig.

Want more information? Check out our FAQs or download our brochure:

What is Dutch Elm Disease? 

Dutch Elm Disease is killing elm trees across North America by the millions. It’s a fungus, carried by elm bark beetles, that has spread throughout the Maritimes in just a few decades. It arrived in New Brunswick in the late 1950s, and continues to spread to this day. Thousands of heritage trees have become shriveled skeletons thanks to Dutch Elm Disease.

An archival photo of an elm tree outside Windsor Hall.
An American elm tree near Mount Allison’s Windsor Hall, 1963.

It is very likely that your elm will be exposed to Dutch Elm Disease before the end of its natural life. When infected, elms have little chance of fighting off the disease on their own. Their only defense against the disease is to seal off its vascular system, which causes the tree to dehydrate and starve to death.

Managing Dutch Elm Disease requires a multi-faceted approach, including prevention, sanitation, and strategic planting. The disease is widespread, so it is unfortunately likely that valuable elms will succumb to it. What we can do is prevent it for as long as possible, and plan for its eventual loss (to disease or otherwise).

Two sick elm trees in a courtyard.
Sick and dying elms infected with Dutch Elm Disease in Pugwash, NS.

What is DutchTrig?

DutchTrig is a vaccine developed to prevent Dutch Elm Disease. It works much like your annual flu shot. We inject your tree with DutchTrig once a year to decrease its chances of contracting Dutch Elm Disease. Like other vaccines, DutchTrig increases the likelihood of your elm’s survival, but is of course not a guarantee. DutchTrig is nontoxic and is safe for humans, animals, and the environment.

Pam Harrison, Rory Fraser, and Kelton all stand at the base of an elm tree. Pam is holding a MEPI sign.

DutchTrig is only effective when applied annually, so we encourage elm-owners and elm-lovers to make a 5-year commitment to their trees. We inoculate all valuable elms in late spring or early summer, when the lilacs are in bloom, and the trees will be protected for another year.

How much does DutchTrig cost? 

DutchTrig is administered based on the circumference of the elm tree at chest height. If you would like to know how much it will cost to treat your elm, you can give your tree a hug (with a tape measure) and let us know the circumference. We are happy to give you a quote, and discuss the benefit of long-term sponsorship.

Rory injects an elm in the Old Lower Sackville Cemetery
The Woodpecker crew has inoculated several of Sackville’s remaining elms.

What is underplanting?

Imagine how your space would change once your elm is gone. What will fill that void once the tree is removed or bare of foliage? When an elm dies, is in the process of dying, or is at high risk of contracting DED, then we will likely recommend selecting another tree to plant underneath it or nearby. This practice is known as underplanting, which Woodpecker Tree Care is very familiar with and one that we have done in the past with great results (if the young tree is maintained). 

We are happy to consult with you about which tree(s) would be best suited to that particular spot, and can recommend disease-resistant elm saplings should you want to keep an elm in that space. We have spring and fall planting campaigns and can bring valuable saplings from local nurseries straight to your doorstep for a freight fee. We can also put it in the ground for you to ensure that the sapling is planted properly. 

John Haney holds up a tag attached to an Accolade elm sapling and smiles.

How can I support maritime elm trees?

Woodpecker Tree Care Ltd. is actively looking for elm-loving donors to sponsor DutchTrig treatments for valuable elms. Many elm trees that we treat are unowned, and therefore don’t have a homeowner to sponsor their DutchTrig treatment. Generous tree lovers from all over the Maritimes (and other parts of Canada) donate funds to Woodpecker Tree Care Ltd. to cover the cost of inoculation. Many sponsors choose to fund their elms for a five year period, to ensure that the elm is well-protected.

Rory Fraser injects an elm tree with the DutchTrig vaccine.

Another way you can help with the Dutch Elm Disease problem is by noticing the health of elm trees in your yard or your neighbourhood. Dutch Elm Disease is contagious, and it is important that the removal of a dead or sick elm is done quickly and properly. Sanitation is an important part of Dutch Elm Disease control, and we have the expertise and tools to ensure that the risk of transmission from a dead elm is mitigated.

An elm tree with a branch infected with Dutch Elm Disease.
The rightmost branch shows signs of Dutch Elm Disease.

Contact Us

If you have any questions, concerns, or would like to sponsor this project, please get in contact and our elm coordinator (Meg) will get in touch.

An elm with an eagle's nest.