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Structural pruning red maple

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Before pruning After pruning
The crown has a nice full shape; however, the poor structure is likely to shorten the tree life. The closeup photograph (shown below) of the lower crown shows that six stems are clustered at the same position. Since the cluster of branches at the bottom of the crown was the most important structural issue on this tree, it was treated first. The competing upright leader on the right side of the crown that remains in the tree will be treated the next time this tree is pruned.

Before pruning close-up

After pruning close-up

Two stems (about 3-inches in diameter) shown were removed back to the trunk. The large stems on the right and left were reduced with a reduction cut (cuts can not be seen because they are farther out on the branches). Wood will close over the wounds shown restablishing a connection between the trunk below the cuts and the trunk above.This will encourage the stem in the center to dominate forming a strong central leader.

This cluster of stems in the lower crown represents a weak point in the tree with an increased likelihood of breakage. In addition, the lowest stems often outgrow those in the center of the cluster because they intercept resources moving up the trunk. Essentially, the stems in the center get cut off from the rest of the tree because they lose their vascular connection. This can lead to slow growth, decline, and sometimes death of the stems in the center. Removed branches shown on right.

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