Chopping Trunk in Stages

QuantumSparky

Shohin
Messages
273
Reaction score
250
Location
Eastern Pennsylvania, USA
USDA Zone
6b
I recently chopped a new maple a few inches above the final chop location. I've heard from videos and the forum that it's common to do a rough chop first, wait a year, and then do the final chop at the angle you want and (usually) pretty close to your selected new leader.

Does chopping in stages like this make the second final chop less stressful for the tree since most of the foliage was taken off the first time? I'm not quite sure the reasoning behind doing this way if my guess is incorrect.20210708_163721.jpg
 

Paradox

Imperial Masterpiece
Messages
6,595
Reaction score
7,292
Location
Long Island, NY
USDA Zone
7a
I've heard from videos and the forum that it's common to do a rough chop first, wait a year, and then do the final chop at the angle you want and (usually) pretty close to your selected new leader.

Does chopping in stages like this make the second final chop less stressful for the tree since most of the foliage was taken off the first time? I'm not quite sure the reasoning behind doing this way if my guess is incorrect.

The reasoning behind this is if you dont already have a good potential leader. When you chop, you should get buds activating below the chop.
Once you have identified the shoot that you want to be your new leader, you chop again just above that new leader and cut it at an angle so as the tree heals it across the cut, it creates taper rather than a step or straight across wound.
 
Messages
90
Reaction score
49
Location
Indiana
USDA Zone
6A
The reasoning behind this is if you dont already have a good potential leader. When you chop, you should get buds activating below the chop.
Once you have identified the shoot that you want to be your new leader, you chop again just above that new leader and cut it at an angle so as the tree heals it across the cut, it creates taper rather than a step or straight across wound.
Makes sense. Is the best time to perform this second, post-leader-forming chop in the spring? Does it matter? If it helps, the tree in question is an American hornbeam in good health.
 

Farwest

Sapling
Messages
45
Reaction score
107
Location
Oregon
USDA Zone
9a
I recently chopped a new maple a few inches above the final chop location. I've heard from videos and the forum that it's common to do a rough chop first, wait a year, and then do the final chop at the angle you want and (usually) pretty close to your selected new leader.

Does chopping in stages like this make the second final chop less stressful for the tree since most of the foliage was taken off the first time? I'm not quite sure the reasoning behind doing this way if my guess is incorrect.
Generally speaking for deciduous, compartmentalization (dieback) needs to take place before you can shape the point of transition to the next sacrifice leader.

This is gold: https://www.evergreengardenworks.com/trunks.htm
 

Colorado

Omono
Messages
1,007
Reaction score
1,857
Location
Denver, Colorado
USDA Zone
5b
Generally speaking for deciduous, compartmentalization (dieback) needs to take place before you can shape the point of transition to the next sacrifice leader.

This is gold: https://www.evergreengardenworks.com/trunks.htm

Ryan Neil also discusses compartmentalization and it’s importance extensively in the Mirai videos.
 

BobbyLane

Masterpiece
Messages
4,247
Reaction score
13,126
Location
London, England
if one of those branches is going to be your new leader, thats a helluva stub youve left on the tree. i would go a lot closer, its the growing season afterall, the chance of die back is decreased even on maples!
 

BobbyLane

Masterpiece
Messages
4,247
Reaction score
13,126
Location
London, England
Ryan Neil also discusses compartmentalization and it’s importance extensively in the Mirai videos.
Ryan chops his trees more flush than the above.
if any of you can do a screen shot of a Ryan chop, take one and show this chap he can go much closer than that!
 

QuantumSparky

Shohin
Messages
273
Reaction score
250
Location
Eastern Pennsylvania, USA
USDA Zone
6b
if one of those branches is going to be your new leader, thats a helluva stub youve left on the tree. i would go a lot closer, its the growing season afterall, the chance of die back is decreased even on maples!
I had thought you're supposed to leave a bunch, and then do a final chop later. That's why there is a stupid amount of trunk still there. I'll definitely cut much more flush in the spring unless you think it can survive the final angled cut right now
 

BobbyLane

Masterpiece
Messages
4,247
Reaction score
13,126
Location
London, England
I had thought you're supposed to leave a bunch, and then do a final chop later. That's why there is a stupid amount of trunk still there. I'll definitely cut much more flush in the spring unless you think it can survive the final angled cut right now
im not sure why you think the time to do everything is only spring. the time to work on maples is whenever the tree is growing, we are now in the growing season, you can prune, cut, defoliate, pinch, trim, hedge whatever. a heavy trunk chop in the middle of summer is as good a time as any. and some people perform trunk or prune in the autumn. i work on trees all year around, i chop at any time. in regards to maples ill sometimes leave more of a stub in the winter months as the tree isnt growing then and can't heal itself, but once its growing from spring through summer im not afraid to cut flush to a leader, you can see this on all my maple threads.
maybe there should be a sticky, on when is the best time to chop maples @bonsainut it seems to be the most commonly asked question and there still seems to be so much confusion.
 

Paradox

Imperial Masterpiece
Messages
6,595
Reaction score
7,292
Location
Long Island, NY
USDA Zone
7a
Makes sense. Is the best time to perform this second, post-leader-forming chop in the spring? Does it matter? If it helps, the tree in question is an American hornbeam in good health.

I would say late spring to early summer once the tree is growing well is the best time because it gives more time for the cut to start to heal.
 

Shibui

Masterpiece
Messages
3,878
Reaction score
7,278
Location
Yackandandah, Australia
USDA Zone
9?
Compartmentalizition is a thing. It is about the tree blocking off pathways, usually to prevent disease entry to wounds.
How we do a trunk chop depends on what you start with.
Chopping to bare wood can be unpredictable. New shoots on maples can only grow from places where there are dormant buds which is usually old nodes where leaves once grew. Sometimes you can identify those spots and prune just above but often it is just a case of cut somewhere above the desired place and wait for the buds to tell you where they are.
If there is already shoots growing you can be much more selective and prune just above the desired shoot.
A longer stub does not really matter at this stage. It is just a visual thing and won't affect budding or recovery.

In both cases there is still some danger that chopping close to very thin or weak shoots could physically damage them. I also see that suddenly stopping sap flow to the apex can occasionally also stop sap to nearby weak shoots. Not sure if that is related to compartmentalization or not but it does happen. That's the biggest reason for me chopping a bit above the desired new leader.

After sap flow is re-established to the close shoots and they have lignified and begun to grow stronger it is time to do a final cut on the stub. Now that the leader is physically stronger and has a well defined sap flow you can cut quite close with much more surety. The tree's natural compartmentalization processes will help seal the new cut again from disease but I also seal up cuts larger than 1/2 in to promote faster cambium growth to heal over the scar.
 

Similar threads

Top Bottom