Grants now open to prune black knot

The city says applications are open for property owners to apply for pruning or removing trees infected with Black Knot from private property.

The city says approximately 60% of cherry or plum trees in Fort St. John are infected with the deadly tree fungus. It has received $4,900 from Shell Canada's Social Investment program to help local businesses and residents to have their infected trees pruned or removed ahead of the spring blossom.

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“Thanks to Shell Canada, we are able to help those property owners who may not have the means to be able to prune or remove trees that are infected with Black Knot," said Parks Manager Kylah Bryde. "We are asking all residents and business owners to inspect all the trees on their properties to help combat the spread of Black Knot."

The city doesn’t know when the deadly fungus first arrived, but says it began pruning infected trees in the fall of 2020 and is continuing efforts throughout March 2021.

The trees most affected in the city are Schubert, Chokecherry, and Mayday trees, but the fungus can affect more than 400 species including your backyard cherry, apricot, and plum fruit trees. The fungus spreads quickly to deform branches, stunt growth, and eventually kill a tree.

The grant application form can be found on the city's website, and is available on a first-come, first-served basis.

The city says a professional assessment and recommendation will be made for a trees’ health for those who apply. The property owner will decide how to proceed. 

Residents and businesses to inspect their trees for black knot, and the city will be delivering notifications to specific locations that have infected trees to provide information about the grant program.

The early stage is more difficult to identify, but mature fungus presents itself as a black nodule, gall, or knot.

The best time to prune is when the tree is dormant in the fall and winter to avoid spores being released when the tree is in bloom.

Residents are also encouraged to choose alternative tree species that are not susceptible to black knot when considering new plantings.

Email Managing Editor Matt Preprost at editor@ahnfsj.ca.

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