Increase Diversity, Plant Trees to Prepare for Emerald Ash Borer


Increase Diversity, Plant Trees to Prepare for Emerald Ash Borer

PIERRE, S.D.- Spring is the best time of year to plant new trees to get them established. With that in mind, the South Dakota Department of Agriculture’s (SDDA) Resource Conservation and Forestry Division (RCF) encourages South Dakotans to plant different varieties of trees.


May 21-27 is Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) Awareness Week. The ash tree species are commonly used as urban street trees, wind breaks and shelter belts. Native ash species have no natural defense against the EAB.


“Although EAB has not yet been confirmed in South Dakota, it’s estimated that about one-third of our urban and community trees in the state are ash,” said state forester Greg Josten. “Now is a great time to consider planting trees for any reason, but one good reason is to ultimately replace ash trees that may later succumb to emerald ash borer.” (***hear Josten audio here***)


Native to Asia, the emerald ash borer only attacks true ash trees. The larvae feed beneath the bark, disrupting the movement of water and nutrients and killing the tree within several years. EAB is now found in 30 states, including neighboring Minnesota, Iowa and Nebraska.


“Since trees can take decades to grow but provide a lifetime of benefits, homeowners want to take special considerations when deciding what to plant,” said SDDA forest health specialist Dr. John Ball. “The good rule of thumb is we don’t want to see more than 10 percent of a community’s trees in any one genus. That means no more than 10 percent maple, 10 percent oak, 10 percent any other genus of tree. My recommendation is to look and see what’s being planted down your neighborhood and plant something else. We never know what the next threat might be.” (**hear Ball audio here***)


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Agriculture is a major contributor to South Dakota’s economy, generating $25.6 billion in annual economic activity and employing over 115,000 South Dakotans. The South Dakota Department of Agriculture’s mission is to promote, protect and preserve South Dakota agriculture for today and tomorrow. Visit SDDA online at or find us on Facebook and Twitter. SD Ag Chat podcasts can be found You may subscribe to SD Ag Chat, free of charge, through Google Play Music, iTunes or from