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  • Writer's pictureRoman Jefferson

Introduction: How to Prune

Updated: Feb 24, 2021

Introduction to pruning trees…

Let me begin by saying trees are often over pruned. In fact most trees do their own pruning. For instance, when a branch is not productive enough to sustain itself photosynthetically the tree will decide to shed it. This means compartmentalizing walls will form between the parent branch or trunk and the branch itself. The branch will eventually degrade and decay until it fails at the branch union with the parent branch/trunk. This is especially apparent on aspens. This is the basis for how arborists prune. We are trying to mimic a tree’s natural pruning ability. That is to say, we try to preserve and promote the natural compartmentalizing techniques of trees.


What is CODIT?

CODIT is an acronym for Compartmentalization of Decay In Trees. This is a system used to describe how trees wall off (or in) decay from spreading throughout the tree. We can cover CODIT in more detail on another day. The important piece of CODIT that we need to know right now is that there are natural walls in place between a branch and the parent branch or trunk. If you preserve these walls, the tree can heal more quickly. If you compromise these walls, the infection can spread into the parent branch.


Now let’s talk about some anatomical terms--


The branch bark ridge is a landmark for making a pruning cut. The branch bark ridge is a little raised area of the bark between the parent branch and the side branch. It can be obvious on some trees and inconspicuous on others.


The branch collar is the next landmark you need to find. This is a swelling at the base of the branch. Kind of like how your shoulder is the swelling between your arm and your body. The side branch you're wishing to prune actually goes inside this swelling. This swelling is vascular tissue skirting around the branch and continuing to other parts of the canopy. This area is also important because it will eventually make the “woundwood” that will cover the wound and seal it off from further pathogens. So, by cutting into the branch collar you would be creating wounds in the vascular tissue and impacting the woundwood production.


Therefore, ideally what we want to do is cut the side branch just outside of the branch collar. This will allow the woundwood to cover the newly cut branch as quickly as possible.


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