Chop to deal with reverse taper..

IsaM

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The attached Japanese maple has a bit of reverse taper as can be seen in the first image. Is solving this as simple as cutting it off? I've never made a major cut like this before so was hoping to get a few tips. Plan is:

1) Timing: it's spring where I am and the buds on some maples have just started to swell
2) Use a set of concave cutters
3) Cover with cut paste

Anything else I need to think about? I am assuming/hoping that if I chop where I have indicated there is a relatively low risk of die back all the way to the branches on the left (where the new leader is being grown)?
 

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Shibui

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You have the basic ideas for reducing swelling but in practice its not always so straightforward. JM tends to callus over wounds. The larger the chop the thicker the callus so sometimes a reduction like this ends up making the problem worse.
Best bet is to cut further than looks good to allow for some swelling as it heals. You'll probably need to take out a substantial part of the callus from the previous chop to give a smooth transition from thicker lower trunk to the thinner new apex.
The new apex looks strong. That and wound sealer are your best defence against die back extending further.

In addition all those small branches around that area will add to the thickening. Even little branches seem to cause thickening on many JM. I have quite a few trees to prove it.

The cutter in the photo looks like a knob cutter. Not sure if you've used it on cuts like this but you may find it is not as easy as it looks for larger chops like this. Try nibbling away small bites to get where you want but you may need to resort to some sort of carving tools to hollow out the chop enough.

Definitely seal right over the chop after you've finished.

Good luck
 

penumbra

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Be prepared for a lot of bleeding on a maple in spring. Seriously, a lot of bleeding.
 

Shibui

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Maples do weep if cut just before buds open and bleeding makes it really difficult to get wound sealer to stay put.
Bleeding stops almost immediately if the tree is repotted with a light root prune.
 

IsaM

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Thanks for the responses.

@Shibui the cutter is my wire cutter, was just using it as a pointer, have a carving knife and a concave branch cutter that is much more significant that would hopefully work. will take some of those smaller branches out to reduce swelling as you say. Can I just check what you mean when you say " hollow out the chop enough". Is that to say you make the chop and then try and hollow it out i.e. make it more concave, presumably to deal with the fact that swelling will occur? Or I have i misunderstood?

@penumbra thanks for the reply. Have read about the bleeding, albeit have read Bill Valavanis and Sergio both say that bleeding maples doesn't lead to any major issues, will take their word for it!
 

penumbra

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Have read about the bleeding, albeit have read Bill Valavanis and Sergio both say that bleeding maples doesn't lead to any major issues, will take their word for it!
I agree there are no major issues presented except sealing your cut. It is not really possible to get a good seal at this time of sap rising. The sap on the trunk will quite likely attract sooty mold which isn't that big a deal, but I try to avoid it.
 

Shibui

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Can I just check what you mean when you say " hollow out the chop enough". Is that to say you make the chop and then try and hollow it out i.e. make it more concave, presumably to deal with the fact that swelling will occur? Or I have i misunderstood?
Correct interpretation. When you finish the scar needs to be concave below the level of the live tissue on all sides so that swelling will fill the hollow rather than bulging outwards.
The branch cutter will dig in a little but you'll probably need something else to dig a little deeper towards the center of the cut.
 

LanceMac10

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Can't wait a few weeks until it's actively growing? There will be ZERO weeping and sealing the cut becomes 100% easier. Too early and the chance of die-back on the trunk becomes a problem, as well as the mold/infection situation.

It's bonsai, no need to pack in 2-3 years of work in one sitting. Tree looks pretty cool and set up for success, (outside of the area referenced).

....so why wreck it thru impatience and in-experience when the only one that might suffer is you...... :)
 

W3rk

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Can't wait a few weeks until it's actively growing? There will be ZERO weeping and sealing the cut becomes 100% easier. Too early and the chance of die-back on the trunk becomes a problem, as well as the mold/infection situation.

It's bonsai, no need to pack in 2-3 years of work in one sitting. Tree looks pretty cool and set up for success, (outside of the area referenced).

....so why wreck it thru impatience and in-experience when the only one that might suffer is you...... :)
Agreed, why not just wait a few more weeks.
 

IsaM

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Can't wait a few weeks until it's actively growing? There will be ZERO weeping and sealing the cut becomes 100% easier. Too early and the chance of die-back on the trunk becomes a problem, as well as the mold/infection situation.

It's bonsai, no need to pack in 2-3 years of work in one sitting. Tree looks pretty cool and set up for success, (outside of the area referenced).

....so why wreck it thru impatience and in-experience when the only one that might suffer is you...... :)
Thanks very much for the input.

To be honest that was my question at the start of the thread - is now the right time to chop or is there another time of year that's better. The choice of early spring was because I'd read a few places that said early spring was the right time to do it when the tree has lots of stored energy. The choice of spring wasn't at all out of impatience, it was just following this advice. I absolutely want to do it when it's "safest", it just seems (as with many things bonsai related) that there are different views as to when that time is! Thanks very much again for the input.
 

LanceMac10

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Correct interpretation. When you finish the scar needs to be concave below the level of the live tissue on all sides so that swelling will fill the hollow rather than bulging outwards.
The branch cutter will dig in a little but you'll probably need something else to dig a little deeper towards the center of the cut.

I've found leaving a little more wood at the center of the wound and hollowing a bit more aggressively around the inner circumference helps. Initial healing can be pretty rapid the first few seasons. More hollow helps keep the swelling down a bit as the callous rolls into the hollow. Might take a few more rounds of re-injuring the callous to help it close the last few cm's......more "heartwood" in the area will allow the callous to seal more efficiently?


.....knowing your Maples look a heck of a lot better than mine, I still think it helps... :cool:
 

LanceMac10

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Thanks very much for the input.

To be honest that was my question at the start of the thread - is now the right time to chop or is there another time of year that's better. The choice of early spring was because I'd read a few places that said early spring was the right time to do it when the tree has lots of stored energy. The choice of spring wasn't at all out of impatience, it was just following this advice. I absolutely want to do it when it's "safest", it just seems (as with many things bonsai related) that there are different views as to when that time is! Thanks very much again for the input.


That will be a big wound, right on the trunk.

My climate is far colder than your location. It still goes below freezing overnight with warming days....Maple sugar season!

I wait until the sap gets out to the buds and down to the roots. It doesn't take long in a container. Need to be careful not to dislodge tender buds/new growth, be patient.

....some developmental maples seem to have stopped weeping from the non-sanctioned, passive/aggressive spousal purse prune....in her defense, they are clearly in the way....🤷‍♂️

Not like it will be weeks until you can work it. Get it done a good bit of time before you wire the new growth and cut back else you might screw up your putty job before good healing can take place.:cool:
 

Shibui

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I've found leaving a little more wood at the center of the wound and hollowing a bit more aggressively around the inner circumference helps. Initial healing can be pretty rapid the first few seasons. More hollow helps keep the swelling down a bit as the callous rolls into the hollow. Might take a few more rounds of re-injuring the callous to help it close the last few cm's......more "heartwood" in the area will allow the callous to seal more efficiently?
This is the traditional way to shape the cuts but I've always found it difficult to achieve in practice. Branch pruner does not allow for a raised centre and neither does my arbortech carving wheel which I use to reduce larger chops so I've just made chops concave and not worried about the raised centre. In the end there does not seem to be a big difference but if you are able to manage the shaping keep doing it.
 

LanceMac10

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This is the traditional way to shape the cuts but I've always found it difficult to achieve in practice. Branch pruner does not allow for a raised centre and neither does my arbortech carving wheel which I use to reduce larger chops so I've just made chops concave and not worried about the raised centre. In the end there does not seem to be a big difference but if you are able to manage the shaping keep doing it.


The method I described is certainly dependent on the size of the wound. Definitely for a larger cut, not many tools would be small enough. I had noticed that the deeper you work it, takes a bit longer for the callous to fill the depression. I'm not one to use any filler to compensate. I figure the most important part is a bit of a "trough" within the circumference of the wound. Something for the initial, rapid growth/callous to roll into. Seems earlier the cut, the more aggressive the healing becomes. Can lead to a bit more of a thicker callous than you would like.

.....I do have a really small knob cutter, though....c'mon, I'm Irish!!🤪
 

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