How to proceed on red oak

LumiDude

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Hello eveyone. So I just rediscoved a tree out on the property that I had pruned up for a few years in a row probably almost 10 years ago. I believe it is a northern pin oak, although it could possibly be a northern red oak. I pruned it back some a couple weeks ago after it was fully dormant. I would have prefered to prune it in late winter but with our weather we can go from being under a good amount of snow to having leaf out on a matter of a week.
So...my main question is about random branch dieback. Around here I notice that the red oaks have a tendency to have lower branches consistenty die and on larger branches the smaller twigs slowly die from the trunk outwards. So as the branch adds leaves to the ends of branches they lose growth on the inner parts of branches. The overall health of the trees are fine they just like to continue to grow up and out.
Is there anyone familiar with red oaks and how to help slow this growth(or death) trait? Or is this tree a lost cause? Thanks guys!
 

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Forsoothe!

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It's growing on a white sand beach? Lucky you, Mr. Collector!
 

Waltron

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ive had good luck with a red oak into my garden bed. grows like crazy. gotta stay on top of the top or it gets out of sorts. ive been looking for a good pin. what you need to do is trench it over the course of a few years and backfill.
im potting mine up this spring, (from the garden bed) and collecting another white oak as well I've been working in the field for a few years. got an english oak i got as a bareroot in the mail ive been growing in the ground for about 4 years im potting up this spring as well. good luck with that thing.
 

Potawatomi13

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Possible to post a leaf pic? Is big left hand branch alive? If so, Good. Good enviable trunk to start with. Some lower branching would be good and with good sun exposure fairly hard upper pruning helps with this. I do either when dormant or after leaf harden off;). Also defoliate all or most BIG leaves. Little ones are kept.
 

bwaynef

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I don't have oak experience, but it sounds like what happens when the outer canopy gets dense on most trees and the interior doesn't get light. Those small branches are shed. The way that's managed is to open up the canopy regularly, ...and cutback.
 

LumiDude

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I do agree that not having enough light reach the inner branches is a factor. But, it's interesting because they die back even when they aren't shaded. On year I severly cut back the top and left some medium sized branches lower on the trunk. By the next year there were new buds on the trunk(especially towards the tops) and the lower branches were starting to die back. In nature i notced that the red oaks have very pronounced hollows and dead branches. They seem to kinda self prune, ie partially die back every year some and then make new dominant leaders from part of the way down the previously strong branch. They have gorgeous tristed shapes as a result.
 

LumiDude

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Possible to post a leaf pic? Is big left hand branch alive? If so, Good. Good enviable trunk to start with. Some lower branching would be good and with good sun exposure fairly hard upper pruning helps with this. I do either when dormant or after leaf harden off;). Also defoliate all or most BIG leaves. Little ones are kept.
All of the tree is alive. Im hoping the pruning will get me some lower back budding. It has in the past atleast🤞. Then hopefully I'll have some lower branches to work with so I can reduce the height to a third of what it is. Should I partially defoliate in the coming summer or should I wait a few years until the tree is more refined?
 

bwaynef

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Ryan Neil has talked to folks on his streams/podcasts that mention sometimes dieback can be mitigated by more regular cutbacks of branches. Instead of letting branches grow really long before cutting them back and losing them, let them grow to 6 sets of leaves before pruning them back to 2.

That's not exactly what you're describing, but you may could apply the idea and see how it works out on the dieback.
 

Potawatomi13

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All of the tree is alive. Im hoping the pruning will get me some lower back budding. It has in the past at least🤞. Then hopefully I'll have some lower branches to work with so I can reduce the height to a third of what it is. Should I partially defoliate in the coming summer or should I wait a few years until the tree is more refined?
FIRST tree must be strong/healthy before severe cutbacks. Strongly suspect this will not come the first year. Leaves needed as solar panels and food factories to strengthen and grow new roots essential to health/survival. IF only one or two branches grow well could cut these back part way after leaf harden off to encourage growth elsewhere as food is already in the roots waiting to push secondary growth. This has worked well for me;). Leaf picture?
 
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It sounds like your description of the die back is due to lack of sun. Most deciduous operate this way.

Nice oak. Im working with one and i wired branches away to let sunlight into the trunk area. I got budding back on the trunk after minor cut backs.
 

Potawatomi13

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I know, old post...but, I happened to trudge through the snow today and get a leaf!
Excellent. Appears ID of Q. rubra is correct. Planning to dig this year or can wait till 2021? Is there a grow bed to use after digging:confused:? Prevaling suspicion tree may have long tap root and few side roots until 2 feet down
 

Tieball

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All of the tree is alive. Im hoping the pruning will get me some lower back budding. It has in the past atleast🤞. Then hopefully I'll have some lower branches to work with so I can reduce the height to a third of what it is. Should I partially defoliate in the coming summer or should I wait a few years until the tree is more refined?
I have an Oak. I believe mine is a White Oak though. Not a huge trunk yet....only about 1-1/2” diameter. About 15” tall. I thought I had healthy side branches up higher....trunk division branches like a broom form might have...where the trunk split into three staggered growths. I defoliated the tree in the health of summer. At first nothing happened. It seemed my defoliation killed the branches. Scratching they were goners. So, I cut them off leaving the collar and a small stub. A week later buds burst out all over the trunk. I must have had about 30 buds all over the trunk, all around the trunk, and where there had never been branches before...right out of the rough bark. New trunk division branches up higher grew. I’ve left them all on. At that time winter would be arriving about the time the leaves matured (mature but much smaller). Some of the lowest branches that were created will be left on to further thicken the trunk at and above the base. The tree was a sleeper. The pruning woke it up....mid summer. My plan is to keep the foliage open and rotate it daily...like a quarter turn rotation. Full sun and watered well. No photos. Still under the snow cover pushed away with the American Elm trees.
 

Forsoothe!

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Two things, both arguable: You seem to be in Zone 2b/3a, if so that's pretty marginal for this tree. Trees grow to the edge of their ability, zone 8 to 3, then they don't. Natural selection by death beyond it's ability to survive the length of winter and the depth of cold, not to speak of micro-climate ameliorating. I would see to it that this species gets better winter protection than typical for your collection.

Second, I prefer pruning in late summer/autumn to leave enough season to give it time to set more inner buds that won't be cut off in late winter, so that any that make it through winter, I keep. I understand that some secondary buds will expand anyway, but they will have a shorter growing season and may eliminate the second flush, ad infinitum.

As I said, all arguable.
 
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