Tree autopsy

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Minister of Fire
Mar 7, 2012
A few may remember me having mentioned that I've planted right around 100 trees in my yard, since moving in. Several of the key yard trees have been Princeton Elm, the oldest of which (8 years?) was just found dead. I had not noticed any decline in the tree last year, perhaps I missed it, but I don't think so. This has me concerned about the half dozen or more other key-location Princeton Elms I have planted in the yard.

Anyone know of a service which would do an autopsy for me, preferably on some mailed-in bark or sapwood sample, to determine what killed this tree? If it's something treatable, which may be affecting the rest of my elm crop, I'd like to get on it sooner than later.
It would be good to figure out this soon to distinguish from the elm bark beetle or dutch elm disease. Try an arborist that specializes in elm diseases.
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Ask them to assess (lawn...) chemicals in the tree sample as well ?
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If I remember correctly Princeton was a "mostly" DED resistant strain. It was a regular tree that showed resistance.
Ask them to assess (lawn...) chemicals in the tree sample as well ?
It's worth pointing out that there's a second Princeton Elm located not more than 15 feet from this one, purchased from the same nursery and planted on the same date, which is thriving. They're also not planted in the lawn, but about 20 feet back in a garden, which is about 50 feet deep x 300 feet wide. So, while anything is possible, this does put the lawn regimen very low on my list of suspected causes.

If I remember correctly Princeton was a "mostly" DED resistant strain. It was a regular tree that showed resistance.
I believe you're right. I have a family member who is a retired ASLA/RLA, who had used a lot of them through the 1980's and 1990's, and they're now massive healthy trees, which was my instigation for choosing this particular variety. I will check with him.

I will say, their growth rate is impressive. I think I planed these as 8 footers in 2015 or 2016, and they're already over 40 feet tall. I do fertilize them on a twice per year schedule, and they're on timed irrigation, which really helps with the annual growth rate given our too-dry mid-summers.
We've seen several of the 'Princeton' elm die over past 15 years in Cincinnati region. Trees that have been planted for 20 years and are dying. While 'Princeton' is reported to be DED resistant, they are still susceptible to phloem necrosis (PN), another vascular disease caused by a mycoplasma like organism (MLO) causing even more rapid decline and death than DED. It can be spread by root grafts. A treatment for PN is to ID and remove symptomatic trees, and to trench between possibly infected specimens and adjacent healthy trees to disrupt spread of pathogen via root grafts between neighboring trees. Or don't replant elm of same species next to another to avoid root graft formation. It's difficult to positively ID disease from diseased specimens (DED and PN) even if sample collected properly, shipped quickly in cold packaging.
Graft Incompatibility was another issue noted early on with 'Princeton' was caused by propagation using diploid and triploid rootstock and scion material causing trees to die 5+ years after planting.
Very lukewarm on 'Princeton'.
There are other DED-resistant American elm and other hybrid elms: ISA DED-resistant elm species and cultivars
I planted 2 princeton elms from Sharptop nursery about 10-15 years ago. They are both street trees (in the 3-4 ft grass strip between the road and sidewalk). 1 is in front of my house, the other is in the same strip in front of my neighbors house. Both are doing great. No problems yet. Fingers crossed. These are in NJ 1 mile from the ocean.
Yeah, I probably have 6 or 10 Princeton Elms, all planted in the last 10 years. They've become one of my favorites, which is why I'm concerned about this one.

Work has been crazy this week, will hopefully get a chance to dig today or this weekend. I also had my gardener here this week, he has a BS from Penn State in horticulture, and he said he would look into this. He can look at any shrub or evergreen, and usually tell you on sight what bug, fungus, or other issue it has, but he doesn't usually do trees in his daily work.

I hesitate to waste my time with any of the "arborists" I've had here to check diseased trees before, as none them have ever seemed to know tree disease better than any other person off the street, despite two of them specifically advertising they were experts on tree disease. At least around here, anyone knowing how to fell or trim trees -- and very little more -- seem to be advertising themselves as "arborists". This might be a regional thing.
Get a nice big insurance policy, and you too could be an arborist!