August 1, 2018

Fredericton inoculation project

The City of Fredericton, N.B., announced plans for an inoculation pilot project to slow the spread of Dutch elm disease on city-owned trees.  Starting in May 2018, all elm trees greater than 30 centimetres and located within pre-determined trial areas of Devon, and the downtown east and west plat, as well as several larger elms of significance located in parks on the north and south sides of Fredericton, were inoculated with DutchTrig, a bio-control vaccine for elms. 

DutchTrig is a biological and organic control agent consisting of spores of the Verticillium fungus that, once injected, activates the elm tree’s natural defense mechanisms. The inoculation process can be most easily compared to that of the influenza virus vaccination process in humans. Instead of making healthy elm trees sick, the inoculation ensures that elms produce a healthy immune response to infection from Dutch elm disease.

Arborists will apply the vaccine by micro-injecting a small amount of the formula into the elms this spring, when the trees are at 25 per cent or more in leaf development. The treatment is non-invasive, requires no drilling, and is completely safe for people, animals and the surrounding environment as it uses only plant-based pathogens associated with Dutch elm disease itself.

The infection and survival rates of the inoculated trees will be compared to non-treated elms in other areas of the city throughout the summer. Results will then be recorded for analysis in July, during the City’s annual Dutch elm disease survey. 

Municipalities using the inoculation have experienced a dramatic decrease in infection rates, with some communities showing 99 per cent of injected elms successfully protected against Dutch elm disease. A successful vaccination program will preserve the number of elm trees in the city and reduce removal and replanting costs, leading to more efficient and self-sustaining urban forestry programs.