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 Dead branches 
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Joined: Sat Sep 18, 2010 8:06 pm
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Location: Columbus, OH
Post Dead branches
So my Pin Oak tree which I am learning on has some dead branches that are in the way of where I think I can route the rope to get a much higher crotch or pitch or whatever you experienced guys call it. I need a glossary of tree speak terms btw if you know of one.

I can either go ahead and rout the rope and cut them off on the way up or use the ladder. Probably would do the climb thing if I can manage it and clip a small axe or hand saw to my harness.

I am planning on cutting them back to the trunk assuming this is the right thing to do. Do I need to do anything to the open wound to keep it from getting infected or let it go? The tree needs some pruning in that area as it looks pretty wild after around 20 years growth. If I don't do it, my Mom will have it done anyway.

I am pretty inexperienced at tree maintenance so I am figuring someone here can tell me how to proceed. I do not want to hurt the tree any more than is required.

Any advice on this is welcome.

Thanks!

David


Fri Sep 24, 2010 12:57 pm
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http://treesaregood.org/treecare/pruning_mature.aspx

Don't use an axe. Way safer and better for the tree if you us a saw. Don't use any wound dressings, just let the tree do what it does naturally. I would strongly recommend letting the tree go dormant before you do any pruning. Do you have Oak Wilt by where you live? If so, do some research into that disease and you might have to re-think climbing that tree in the summer months.


Fri Sep 24, 2010 4:18 pm
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Location: S.E. Michigan, U.S.A.
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There are arborists here who can certainly address this better than I. In fact: I let my wife, who holds an Advanced Master Gardener certificate and has taken arborist classes, determine what needs trimming, when and how. That being said: It is my understanding that you do not want to trim limbs flush to the limb or trunk. It is my understanding that you want to leave about a half inch or so.

I'm sure somebody will be along shortly to correct me if I've got it wrong :P

Btw: Make sure to do an undercut, first. Otherwise, when the cut from the top gets thru the wood, you may just strip a whole bunch of bark off the trunk or the limb from which the limb you're cutting grew, which is Very Bad.

My wife says: No pruning oak trees at this time of year! You must wait until the ground is frozen, at which time the tree will be completely dormant, or risk Oak Wilt, which will destroy the tree. This problem is most serious with the red oak family, of which the pin oak is a member.

Best way to prune is with a pruning saw. These are often Japanese-style pull-cut saws. Very sharp. Very efficient. Not too hideously expensive. A.M. Leonard is a good source.

Jim

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Fri Sep 24, 2010 6:22 pm
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Location: Ontario, Canada
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All above is great advice man :)

winter is the best time for pruning oaks.

period...

I have done it in the summer, but only deadwooding, and only very carefully.

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Fri Sep 24, 2010 6:34 pm
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Location: Columbus, OH
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I am glad I asked about this before doing anything. You guys are awesome.

EMR and SemiJim, I looed up the Oak wilt you mentioned and it turns out that we do have it aroudn here. That is the type of thing I was afraid of happenning. I Will wait until this winter before I do any pruning. The leaves will still be on it anyways so I can stil ltell which limbs need to get pruned. I am not sure why it does, but they stay on until the new leaves are about to come out.

I will keep all the advice in mind so I can do it right when the time comes. I will find another way to reroute my climbing limb or go somewhere else when the time is right. Nto just yet though. Need more low level practice.

Thanks a lot!

David


Fri Sep 24, 2010 7:10 pm
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pruning dead branches (dead wooding) has plenty of 'rules'. rather than try to type them all out here or misrpresent some of them, it should be researched by anybody wishing to do it properly or in depth.

touching on the one topic that i picked out above that has the most misinterpretations (i refer to the people whom i have heard in reallife); where you would cut a branch or limb depends on the 'collar' of that particular branch (or limb). left to its own a tree will start to squeeze off the dead or dying piece where it thinks is best. this is usually marked by a ring around that piece close to the trunk. as it progressively grows, the ring will sever off the branch entirely. look for any random tree in the woods and you will eventually see branches that are totally dead still poking from the truck (or along a limb) that have a thick collar (maybe looking a little like a donut?) around the stub. when the dead wood finally falls off, the wound will close up and the bark will grow over and you may barely be able to see it was ever there at all. it's almost like a slow closing eye. now, if you wanted to help speed up this process a bit (for whatever reason you have) you would try as best you could to cut the branch at exactly where the collar ends and the dead begins. this is mostly so the tree doesn't have to rebuild any of the collar. if you do cut into the collar at all, you'll see the newer growth (brighter in appearance) than the dead wood itself. the tree will not cry if you miss cutting it perfectly. i miss quite often. sometimes you can give it another pass over with your handsaw (or chainsaw). do your best or hack away. the tree wll heal sooner or later.

on a side note, the same ring (or collar) on a live branch is the tree trying to beef up the base of that branch at the crotch because the branch is getting heavier and needs more support. watching any particular tree grow for a long enough time you'll be able to see exactly what i'm trying to put into words. a tiny branch starting out needs no added support. as a branch ages and gets bigger the tree adds more support to hold up the more massive limb...

please don't anybody shoot me for the above explanation. i am by no means a licensed arborist. i climb for a living and am taught more every single day by those above (litterally!) me. i do my best to learn how to take care of the trees that i love so much to spend my time in and around. some of my words are very likely not by the book at all. i just want to help shed a little light on those wishing to climb without interfering with a trees' nature way of taking care of itself.

i do hope i have not overly discribed this or confused anybody more than they already were.

i also hope i have not put my mouth in my foot.


Tue Sep 28, 2010 8:27 pm
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Location: Ontario, Canada
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good post, and rule of thumb? NEVER cut the wound-wood that is already growing, the tree has put a lot of resources and effort into sealing that up.

If you cut it, it has to start all over.

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Tue Sep 28, 2010 8:55 pm
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Gonzo, I thought you did a great job of explaining the branch collar idea. The only thing that I want to comment on is that trees don't heal like people or animals do. This can be a minor point as trees will cover their wound in time (provided the wound is not too large) but it is something to keep in the back of your mind when pruning trees. Every single pruning cut/wound will have some potential to allow decay into the tree. How serious of an issue is that, well its all relative. I just want people to understand that every pruning cut is an injury to the tree and that tree will never forget because it never "heals".

Sorry about going on about that, but one thing that always sticks with me from Dr. Alex Shigo is that trees never heal. So many times I hear "experts" like Roger Cook on Ask This Old House talk about how trees heal. I used Roger Cook as an example because I think he knows next to nothing about trees, yet homeowners across the country look to him for advice on tree care. He probably has never even heard of Alex Shigo.

Gonzo, I hope you are not reading my post and thinking I am referring to you in any negative light what so ever. Like I said above, I thought you did an excellent job describing the branch collar and how it responds to dead/dieing branches. I would say you know way more than Roger Cook.......have you ever thought about a career in TV?


Wed Sep 29, 2010 4:30 pm
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right Eric, they compartmentalize, so they never truly heal, but they seal it off well :)

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Wed Sep 29, 2010 4:53 pm
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emr wrote:
Gonzo, I thought you did a great job of explaining the branch collar idea.

I agree. This is something about which I did not know, and was a welcome education!

emr wrote:
So many times I hear "experts" like Roger Cook on Ask This Old House talk about how trees heal. I used Roger Cook as an example because I think he knows next to nothing about trees, yet homeowners across the country look to him for advice on tree care.

You ought to be around here some times when there's a gardening or cooking thing on and hear my wife's comments :). Or something related to computers and networking and hear mine :). Much of what is passed-off as "expertise" on TV isn't.

Back to the subject-at-hand: I'm certainly no arborist. Nor does my wife, who's had some education in the field, claim that mantle. That's why I gave the caveats I did. Again: Gonzo, thanks for the correction/clarification.

Jim

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Wed Sep 29, 2010 5:15 pm
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Here's an example of callus tissue (the smooth "donut") growing out of the branch collar on a red oak. If you were going to prune the dead limb you would make the cut close to the callus tissue but try not to cut into or injure it.

Image

For the example shown I believe it would be ok to cut any time of year since the tree has already compartmentalized the dead limb.

-Andrew


Wed Sep 29, 2010 8:48 pm
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exactly moss, the tree has worked hard sealing that off, no sense it making it start all over man :)

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Wed Sep 29, 2010 8:56 pm
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One of the reasons that we don't deadwood Oaks during the growing season is that it is almost impossible not to damage some living tissue while climbing. We almost always us cambium savers and we never make a bad cut which would injure the brace collar (:wink: ) but you are sure to break off some smaller branches when throwballing, or limbwalking, or........... well you get the point. We don't even have Oak wilt in our county, but we still play it safe. 99% of the time we only prune Oaks once they are totally dormant. This year I will have climbed 2 oaks during the growing season. One was to install a cable and brace in a failing oak that was growing over a house. The second oak is one that we are doing next week. The homeowner is having a fall wedding and the reception is at his house. He has about 15 oaks in his lawn that are just caked with deadwood. Personally I would never even climb an oak during the summer is Oak Wilt was in my area. Better safe than sorry.


Thu Sep 30, 2010 6:43 am
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Post Oak Wilt Issues
I lost my biggest two oaks to "Oak Wilt" a few years back and now kind of have to learn the Alamo Injection treatment and apply it to the last one on the lot. I even took out one on the neighboor's yard. It was my third experince with a large complete tree removal - It took me awhile but it was done. Lots of learning by doing and only a couple of close calls while working alone!

Alamo Injection to Live Oak
http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pid=904139&l=91e633d7ef&id=1579024950

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Thu Sep 30, 2010 10:39 am
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emr wrote:
\.......have you ever thought about a career in TV?


hell no.

i hate cameras and am terribly microphone shy.

having an audience gives me hives too.


Thu Sep 30, 2010 6:12 pm
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