All samples taken from private trees must be sent to the lab by a municipality, agriculture fieldman, tree company or STOPDED. Tree companies must contact the municipality, Agriculture Fieldman or STOPDED before sending a sample to the lab. Samples cannot be sent directly by a property owner.

Taking a good sample

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  1. Only sample an elm tree between June 1 and September 30. And only from the infected area of the tree.
  2. Sterilize your pruning tools with methyl hydrate (gas line antifreeze), 70 per cent alcohol or 10 per cent bleach. The use of bleach can rust the pruning equipment. Wash equipment and spray with WD40
  3. Select the branch in the elm tree that is showing the typical Dutch Elm Disease (DED) symptoms of leaf wilt or browning. This may require the use of a pole pruner. Check here to review the Signs and symptoms of Dutch Elm Disease.
  4. Check this branch for brown staining in the cambium under the bark, a symptom of DED. If staining is not found, try another branch on which the leaf symptoms appear. While staining is a strong indicator of DED, it is not always present in a diseased tree.
  5. Select a portion of the branch measuring 1 to 2 cm (up to 1 inch) in diameter. Cut 5 or 6 pieces about 15 cm (6 inches) in length, from a part of this branch. The sample branch must be taken out of the section of the tree showing symptoms.

    Photo of sample branches with measurement

  6. Please do not submit:
    • pieces from which the bark has been peeled – samples must have bark intact
    • with elm leaves or twigs, remove these from the cut pieces
    • large branches
  7. Wrap all branch pieces in wax paper making sure that the wax paper surrounds the entire bundle, secure with tape to prevent drying and maintain proper humidity. (Do not place branches in a sealed plastic bag as it promotes moulding).

    Photo of branch pieces wrapped in wax paper

  8. Place bundle in a paper envelope or paper bag.
  9. Fill out a DED Sample Submission Form (PDF, 113 KB) with your name, complete location or street address, phone number and date sampled.  Give each sample your own sample code number for your records and include this number after the shipping date on the submission form. Code numbers can be as simple as #1 plus municipal initials for the first sample, #2 municipal initials for thesecond etc. (L #1).
  10. Include any information about the tree or growing conditions in the on the submission form that would be helpful in identifying the problem.
  11.  Mark your code number on the paper envelope or bag with a felt marker. NOTE: each elm tree sampled must have its owe code number and submission sheet.
  12. Include the completed submission  form with the sample for the lab. Be sure to keep a copy of the form for your records.
  13. All samples should be kept in a cool place until reaching the lab to prevent deterioration.
  14.  Send sample to the Alberta Plant Health Lab (address found on the submission form) using any private courier. Send sample early in the week. Avoid sending late-week submissions as the sample may deteriorate in transit.
  15. Tag the tree to identify it as being tested. Make sure the same code number is on the tree, sample and DED Sample Submission Form (PDF, 113 KB)
  16. Disinfect the pruner head, secateurs and knife before taking the next sample. (This will prevent the possible spread from an infected tree to an uninfected tree).

    Photo of disinfected pruner

Important points to remember

Samples sent improperly take up important lab time. Re-sampling is the only course of action. Ship samples with proper documentation (submission form).

Do not send very small twigs that are impossible to peel or culture, or dead branches

  • Solution: 1 to 2 cm (up to 1 inch) in diameter.

Do not allow samples to accumulate for a week or more before shipping

  • Solution: Ship weekly. Place sample in the refrigerator if it has been taken later in the week and ship on Monday or Tuesday.

Do not ship sample branches in a plastic bag

  • Solution: Re-sample, wrap in wax paper and place in paper envelope or bag.

For more information on how to take a sample call the STOPDED Hotline at 1-877-837-ELMS (3567)