As the borers approach, should we cut the ash?

By Chuck Wooster for “The Outside Story
Illustration by Adelaide Tyrol

Early May is a gut-wrenching time for those of us who love ash. The trees take their time leafing out, appearing stone-cold dead for weeks after the maples have flowered and put on their fine show. Even the recalcitrant oak comes to life before the white ash stirs.
Thinking an ash tree is dead is not entirely unjustified: ash trees can suffer from ‘ash yellows,’ a disease in which microbes invade the circulatory system of the tree, causing it to lose color and vigor and die over the course of a few years. This happened on our farm three years ago: two vigorous youngsters above the pasture, each about 14 inches in diameter and straight-trunked for 30 feet, kicked the bucket seemingly overnight. At a summer’s end, they were a little pale and patchy in the crown, but the following spring I still thought they were just late to leaf out. Then by the Fourth of July I realized they were goners.

To read this article in its entirety, please visit “The Outside Story’s” web site at The VINS Nature Blog will run excerpts from current articles in Northern Woodlands “The Outside Story” periodically to enhance our nature offerings to our readers.

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