The annual pruning ban on elm trees has ended in Saskatchewan but Lloydminster residents shouldn’t cut those dead elm branches yet.

The province-wide ban to help reduce the spread of Dutch elm disease is still in effect in Alberta. Provincial regulation in Saskatchewan have the ban in place from April 1 to August 31 but Alberta regulation has the ban in place from April 1 to September 30. 

Parks and green space manager Blake Nielsen says being a border city presents challenges when dealing with Dutch elm disease but they haven’t had any issues so far.

“We do worry about it, being a border city, it’s considered a place that could be an entry zone into Alberta and we are on a main road where people transport things.”

The ban period is when elm bark beetles, which spread the disease, are most active and freshly pruned trees are attractive to the insects. Elm bark beetles can carry a fungus which clogs an elm tree’s water-conducting system causing the tree to die.

Leaves on a DED-infected elm will wilt and become brown in mid-June to mid-July. Trees infected later in the season usually turn yellow and drop prematurely and will have brown staining under the bark.

Regular tree maintenance outside of the ban period helps keep elm trees healthy and less vulnerable to diseases including DED. The fall is the best time for pruning as homeowners are able to see dead and unhealthy branches with leaves still on the trees.

The Government of Saskatchewan recommends hiring a commercial pruner or arborist that’s completed a recognized training program as incorrect pruning can spread DED and other tree diseases.

In Saskatchewan it is illegal to transport or store elm firewood and Nielsen says elm firewood should be disposed of immediately. 

“The disease is spread by the elm bark beetle and they like the dead wood. So they usually get into firewood and most of the problems with Dutch elm disease spreading is by the transport of firewood.”

Elm wood can be disposed of by burning or bringing it to the City of Lloydminster landfill. To report a DED suspect elm tree or for more information, call 1-877-837-3567(ELMS).