CENTER SIOUX—It takes decades for a tree to reach maturity, its canopy providing much-needed shade from the strong summer sun. But those years of quiet growth can quickly be undone once a disease or insect infests it.
That’s where Mike’s Tree Treatments comes in. The company was started by Mike Rodenburgh, 57, of the Sioux Center last spring to save ash trees across the region from the emerald ash borer, even though the tree is already infected.
According to Rodenburgh, adult beetles feed on ash leaves, causing little damage overall. What does the most harm are the beetle larvae feeding on the inner bark enough to eventually kill the tree, as this cuts off the tree’s ability to transport water and nutrients. It only takes two to four years for an infested tree to die.
Rodenburgh offers a free homeowner ash tree assessment by conducting a tree assessment and measuring its girth to determine the amount of chemicals needed.
The chemicals are injected into the tree using a system of metal pipes and tubes that anchor into holes drilled in several places at the base of the tree. A hand pump is initially used to move the fluid up the tree, but the tree’s vascular system quickly does the work on its own, sucking up the medicine and spreading it to the healthy parts of the tree where the vascular system is. still intact.
“If you have the patience, you can save a fairly damaged tree. But it might not look the same as it did before the bug infested it,” he said.
It is not necessary to seal the drilled holes once its work is finished; the tree will heal quickly and the insecticide will prevent other insects from taking advantage of the opening.
“Once the beetle starts feeding on the leaves, they die. It happens within hours,” Rodenburgh said.
When it’s finished, it tags the tree with a coin-shaped medallion that bears a number, which it saves in its own database so that it can accurately monitor the tree through successive treatments, about once every two years.
The sooner a tree is treated, the better the chances of saving the tree.
Citing data from Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, Rodenburgh said saving ash trees can have practical — and economic — benefits, including saving energy costs by providing shade to homes, purifying the air, slowing stormwater runoff and increasing property values.
Rodenburgh launched his new business on May 1 after years of experience in lawn care and landscaping. For 26 years he worked at Greenworld at Sioux Center and for nine years ran his own business, Mike’s Lawn Care Service. He sold Mike’s Lawn Care Service last spring to Chase Reichle to start this new business.
Mike’s Tree Treatment focuses on controlling the emerald ash borer, but circumstances permitting, it may expand its business in the future to control other tree diseases.
Owners who have further questions for Rodenburgh or would like him to examine their trees can contact him at 712-441-4905.