If you live in the Edmonton area, chances are, you care about the trees that line your street, that fill your parks, and that grow in your yard. But tree care is a complicated art, and there are many facets to knowing how to care for your trees and shrubs, which is why the experts here at Chipps Tree Care are dedicated to keeping you informed. Continuing our series on Edmonton trees and their susceptibilities, we now turn your attention to Western Gall Rust, which is a fungal disease that affects many Alberta pine species, especially lodgepole and ponderosa pine. If you have any pine trees in your yard, you should pay extra attention to this guide on how to identify and treat this pesky arboreal disease.
Western gall rust produces fungi in the shape of round woody swellings on the stems and branches of many pine tree species. Orange spores are produced on galls in late spring, which directly infect other pines through elongating leaders and branch shoots. Shifting climatic conditions that occur every few years have been known to result in “wave years” of infection, which cause periodic outbreaks which are often very difficult to control. The parasitic fungus remains alive as long as the host branch or stem, so healthy trees are often the worst collaborators because they live long enough to spread the disease to many other trees. The majority of stem infections occur below a height of 3 metres, which causes outbreaks in the lower parts of the canopy. Hip cankers, partial stem girdling, and infected, discolored bark are some of the more visible symptoms, while stem breakage and blisters are also common. The most conspicuous symptoms are hip cankers and swollen, spherical to oblong growths (galls) which accumulate on the branches, stems, or main trunk of the host pine tree.
Environmental conditions determine the size and severity of each outbreak of Western gall rust, and outbreaks typically occur during spring and early summer when weather is consistently cool and moist. Damp surfaces on pine trees provide an environment conducive to spore germination, which means that the disease is often rampant during Edmonton’s spring thaw and during rainy stretches. Because the proper conditions must persist for at least a full day after the spore lands on its host, the conditions must remain moist for 24 to 48 hours in order to allow enough time for germination, penetration of host defenses, and establishment of the fungus.
While this all sounds frightening, the good news is that, if you spot the symptoms and report them in time, a trained arborist can help you treat the disease, preventing further outbreak. A Chipps Tree Care specialist can help by removing dense patches of grasses, weeds, and brush near susceptible trees, and they can treat severely infected trees with rouging or burning to prevent further spread. If the disease has spread over several trees in a single yard or park, it is possible to prevent further spreading by applying a copper-based or manganese-based fungicidal spray. Of course, these measures should never be attempted alone. Please contact one of our professionals to set up a diagnosis, and never try to handle any chemicals yourself — the last thing you want to do is put your health or the health of your family in danger. If you have any issues with your trees or lawn, trust an arborist accredited by the ISA (International Society of Arboriculture) Prairie Chapter, which is a not-for-profit that certifies arborists in Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba, Canada.
The next time you need help with tree removal, planting, pruning, or other arboreal work, like disease treatment, trust a tree care specialist with professional credentials and certifications. Relying on a trustworthy arborist from Chipps Tree Care is one easy way to you know you’ll have the most committed, knowledgeable, and safest crews working on your property. If you have an Edmonton tree care concern, contact us right away. Tree care is not just a weekend hobby; it’s a delicate and complex process that requires a great deal of study, dedication, and passion to do correctly.