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The Importance of Tree Diagnosis From a Consulting Arborist

Updated: Mar 23, 2023



When a tree falls ill, the cause isn't always apparent. A broad range of pests and diseases can have a negative impact on the health of a tree. Other times, a tree may decline due to other factors, like poor growing conditions, unfavorable weather, excessive damage or lack of pruning.


For most people, diagnosing the problems with a tree is a challenge. Many diseases cause similar symptoms and some may have no obvious signs at all. If the trees on your property have begun to deteriorate or you are concerned for their wellbeing, you should bring in a consulting arborist to perform a tree diagnosis.


The Key Factors of Tree Diagnosis

Working with advanced knowledge of both trees and the issues which can afflict them, a consulting arborist will be able to diagnose problems with your trees and advise you on the best treatment plan. These are some of the key factors that consulting arborists work with.


1.) Plant Identification

In order to diagnose tree problems, a person must be able to identify what kind of tree they are looking at. Unless you planted the tree yourself, you may only have a rough idea of what species it is, but a consulting arborist will be able to identify it easily. This is important because so many pest and disease issues are species specific. For example, emerald ash borers will only attack and kill trees in the ash (Fraxinus) genus. This means that EAB will not attack mountain ash (Sorbus aucuparia). Furthermore, there are certain cultivars of trees that have special variations to their leaves which can often be mistaken for a health issue to the amateur eye. By identifying your tree species/cultivar, a consulting arborist will be able to determine which issues can and cannot affect it.


2.) Pest or Disease Identification

In addition to being familiar with all species of trees, consulting arborists also know about many kinds of pests and diseases that can infest each species of tree. Because of this, they will be able to properly identify exactly what the issue is with your tree. Sometimes, a particular pest may be present, but not causing the damage. Other times, the signs will look like they are caused by a particular disease, but can actually be something completely different. A consulting arborist will be able to sort all of this out.


3.) Pest or Disease Life Cycle

Along with being able to identify tree diseases and pests, a consulting arborist will know how and when the pest or disease attacks or infects the tree. For example, you can find spruce spider mite damage on trees year round, but the mites are only actively feeding on the spruce trees in the early spring and the fall. You can find other mites in the summer, but those will not be the cause of the damage. Knowing about the life cycles of diseases and pests will help consulting arborists to diagnose a tree problem that is not immediately obvious.


4.) Timing of Treatments

Consulting arborists can identify tree pests and diseases, know how their life cycle works, and can also time treatments accordingly. Many tree health issues require specific timing for the treatment application or there will be inadequate or incomplete control of the issue. For example, treatments for Zimmerman pine moth must be sprayed onto pine and spruce trees in either early spring or late summer/early fall to be effective. But the best example of all is apple scab. If the necessary date for spraying treatment is missed by so much as a single day, there will be inadequate control of the fungal infection!


5.) Dedication to Accurate Diagnosis

While a consulting arborist will usually be able to identify any tree problems, there are times when it isn’t clear what the problem is, even to a professional. When this happens, it is important for a consulting arborist to be willing to admit they don't know what's wrong and to commit to finding an answer. If initially stumped by a tree issue, a consulting arborist will gather as much information as possible and research the issue, as well as consult with other tree care professionals to find out what the issue is before recommending a treatment action. Treatment without proper diagnosis is malpractice, and a consulting arborist will always make sure the necessary steps are taken to diagnose and resolve your tree issues.


Do You Need a Consulting Arborist for Tree Diagnosis?

When you need an accurate tree diagnosis for any of the trees near your home or business, Sam Kezar can help you out. Sam is a Registered Consulting Artist (#705), as well as an ISA-Board Certified Master Arborist (MW4503B), and he can perform a highly accurate tree diagnosis for any declining trees on your property. Call Aspen Arboriculture Solutions today if you want us to schedule a tree diagnosis for you anywhere in the Midwest!



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