By now, most Elkhart County people are familiar with the damage caused by the Emerald Ash Borer. There are very few untreated trees left in our community that are worthy of any effort to control the pest.
Thousands of these damaged trees, however, remain standing. These dead and dying trees become amazingly brittle, often falling apart or tipping over in just a year or two after the first symptoms were noticed.
A tree on my own property serves as a good example. I first noticed visible symptoms of ash borer in the tree last spring. By mid-summer, the tree had deteriorated remarkably, perhaps 50 percent defoliation in just a few months. In mid-August, my family came home to find the tree lying on the driveway.
Amy Stone, of Ohio State University Extension Service, refers to this phenomenon as the “ash snaps” and has seen it can occur under the soil-line where roots become exposed as the tree fails, or on the main trunk at the ground level or higher. Her assessment is that removing these trees in a timely manner is very important, especially where they pose a hazard, because we cannot predict when the trees will fail, but we do know that they become brittle and snap.
I have to agree with her, and would caution people about taking down these trees without proper equipment or training. I watched a video recently of an ash tree being cut down with a chainsaw. The vibrations from the chainsaw shook the limbs off the tree, severely injuring the chainsaw operator below. The tree literally looked as if a bomb went off inside it. The chainsaw operator had no chance to escape.
In many cases, it is best to hire a tree removal specialist. You do not want to risk your life to save a few dollars removing a rotting tree. Unfortunately, there is no public fund to help defray the cost of tree removal. Unless a tree is growing in a right of way or public property, the homeowner must bear the expense of the removal.
Jeff Burbrink is an Extension educator in agriculture and natural resources. Write to him at 17746 E. C.R. 34, Goshen, IN 46528; call 533-0554; or fax 533-0254.