ALWAYS PRUNE JUST IN FRONT OF THE BRANCH COLLAR
Proper pruning is important in maintaining the health of your tree. Cutting the tree improperly creates large wounds that leave the tree open to disease and decay. Trees have amazing natural defenses that enable them to heal……..IF, they are pruned correctly.
When pruning, the “branch collar” should always be left intact. The branch collar is typically a distinctive bulge at the base of the branch. It connects the subject branch to the larger supporting branch or to the trunk. The branch collar is actually interlocking layers of cells of both the branch and supporting branch or trunk. The branch collar seals off the wound, minimizing the risk of disease and decay. Once again, “PROPER PRUNING LEAVES THE BRANCH COLLAR INTACT”.
Branch collars vary widely from tree to tree, and from species to species. Some are large and very noticeable, while others are much harder to distinguish. Before you begin pruning, look at several different trees and tree species to learn to identify the branch collars’ location. The final pruning cut should begin at the top outside edge of the branch collar and follow the collar’s outline to the bottom. If the branch is large enough to require a pruning saw, it is important to first shorten the branch to a 6 to 8 inch stub to prevent tearing. Before cutting off the branch, make an “undercut” underneath with your saw about a third of the way up through the branch. Next, cut the branch from the top side, starting the cut further out on the branch, just outside where your undercut would emerge if you completed that upward cut. Before you are all the way through the branch with your top cut, the branch should begin to break away from its’ own weight. It will snap or “jump” off, hence the reason for calling this the “jump cut”.
Now you can safely make your last “stub cut” or final pruning cut just in front of and on the outside of the branch collar, leaving the collar intact. If the stub is of sufficient size, you may need to support it with your other hand while you follow through with the final pruning cut so it does not also tear the wound when breaking free.
Remember, the branch collar is the tree’s first line of defense against disease and decay and should ALWAYS be left intact.
Harold Hoover, Board Certified Master Arborist