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Author Topic: trimming a new tree  (Read 2439 times)

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Offline chazmonro

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trimming a new tree
« on: September 10, 2006, 12:07:35 PM »
I have this little catalpa tree that I'm growing from seed. The tree stands about 5 feet tall, at about 1 foot off the ground it splits into two distinct branches, I was thinking maybe I should cut one of the branches off because I've seen trees split at y intersections like this. Can you tell me if I should leave it alone, or trim it, and if I should trim it or can trim it, how exactly to do it?

Here are a couple pics.





Chuck


Offline Tom

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Re: trimming a new tree
« Reply #1 on: September 10, 2006, 12:14:49 PM »
Trees with Y forks are prone to splitting, you are right.  Yours looks like a sucker or limb, on the left, that decided to be a growth leader too.   If you look at the base, it comes off at almost a 90 and that  is supposed to make them stronger.  If I were to cut one side off, it would be that left side.

Keep in mind that catalpa hosts fish worms (caterpillars) and the tree needs to be climable so that the kids can get up in it.   If you make it too straight up and down, they will need a ladder. :D
extinct

Offline Phorester

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Re: trimming a new tree
« Reply #2 on: September 10, 2006, 06:02:22 PM »
This will probably sound odd Chuck, but here goes.  First, I agree to take off the left fork as we see the tree in your pictures.  BUT..., not all at once.......

You don't want to cut off any branch whose diameter where it joins the trunk is more than 1/2 the diameter of the trunk.  In other words, if the branch you want to remove is 1/2 inch diameter and the trunk is less than 1 inch diameter, don't cut off the whole branch in one cut.  Right now your tree is balanced with enough leaves on both forks to gather enough sunlight to make the food it needs for the root system.  Removing the entire left fork in one cut would be taking too many leaves off the tree for the tree to absorb enough sunlight to continue making the amount of food it needs.

Instead, only cut off the top one foot of the left fork now.  With the terminal bud on the left fork removed, this will subordinate it to the right fork which will then take over as the new terminal. Taking off only the top foot of the left fork will leave enough leaves for the tree. Then, allow the tree to grow until the trunk is twice the diameter of the now shortened left fork.  This might actually take a few years.  Then remove the rest of the left fork when the trunk has grown to at least twice its diameter.

As perfectly balanced as these forks are, it'll be better off if you do it this way.

Another note, take out all the grass at the base of the tree. The grass roots are competing with the tree for soil moisture. Put mulch underneath the entire branch spread (at a minimum) of the tree, 4 inches deep and sloping down to the ground level right at the trunk. Putting inches of mulch up against the trunk will rot the bark away.  Another way to look at is that you are mulching the roots, not the trunk.
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Offline Timburr

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Re: trimming a new tree
« Reply #3 on: September 10, 2006, 07:28:33 PM »
Guys, what about timing? I know nothing about catalpa trees, but am under the belief that now is not a good time to go pruning.....the tree is getting ready to shut down for winter and callous formation/healing is at it's lowest now. The weather is still warm enough to easily let infection in. I'm curious!
Early spring is usually the best time, unless the tree is a heavy 'sap leaker'. There are other exceptions.
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Offline chazmonro

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Re: trimming a new tree
« Reply #4 on: September 10, 2006, 07:44:48 PM »
Yes, knowing when to trim is also a desire of mine. I love trees, I just have no idea how to care for them.

I will definatly put some mulch down around the tree ASAP. Thanks for the advice everyone.

Chuck

Offline Kevin

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Re: trimming a new tree
« Reply #5 on: September 10, 2006, 09:59:38 PM »
Quote
Branches with strong U-shape angles of attachment should be retained. Branches with narrow V-shaped angles of attachment often form included bark (see menu for our tree care album in Albums) which should be removed if available.


http://www.mdvaden.com/pruning.shtml

Offline Woodcarver

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Re: trimming a new tree
« Reply #6 on: September 11, 2006, 10:32:58 PM »
Most pruning references say that moderate pruning can be done anytime.  My personal preference is to prune trees during dormancy.
Just an old dog learning new tricks.......Woodcarver

Offline Phorester

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Re: trimming a new tree
« Reply #7 on: September 14, 2006, 11:48:45 PM »

Yep, pruning can be done about anytime. But the best time to prune a tree is in late winter.  There are no bugs or diseases flying through the air to infect the new cut.  Also, the time of fastest growth in trees is right when they begin to grow in late winter/early spring. So pruning cuts done right before this early spring growth will heal over quicker, which means less time for an open wound to have a chance of becoming infected.

This is why commercial orchardists prune their fruit trees at that time.
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Offline Pullinchips

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Re: trimming a new tree
« Reply #8 on: September 15, 2006, 05:14:51 PM »
What phorester says corresponds to what a buddy of mine says.  He is a certified arborist and told me that you never want to remove more than 1/3 of the folliage at a time.  If you cut off the entire left side this will be somewhere around 50% of the foliage wich will lead to shock and excess stress and can slow growth down since there is less leaf surface area and it is recovering from the shock and in trully severe cases a young or older tree may never fully recover and die.

But even if you cut one side off of a young vigorous tree it will probably fare alright, even though i would recomend part of the branch or removing it at a later date.

-Nate
Resident Forester
US Army Corps of Engineers: Savannah District

Clemson Forestry Grad 2004
MFR Clemson University 2006
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