Structural Pruning of Japanese Maples

AndyJ

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Hi folks,

I've got quite a few Japanese Maples that are in the ground to get some decent growth on them. There are a couple of trees that I'd like to prune so that I can change direction in the trunk and create some movement. When would be the best time to do this? Is it something I can do as soon as the leaves are all off? Do I have to wait until the winter when the trees are fully dormant? Or do I have to wait until spring?

Thanks all

Andy
 

papymandarin

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same opinion, never had good experience of pruning maples now, now is the main period in our type of climate for contamination by various fungi/bacteria (even if you wi see the signs only next year), best time is summer for me, if you absolutely need to prune before next summer, i'd do it at bud break
 

Djtommy

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I do this type of pruning in the middle of the growing season. Healing time is quick, and new growth has time to harden off.
I agree with this, big cuts I would not make in early spring. They bleed a lot then.
Just mark the ones you want to cut when you have a clear view and do the work in the next growing season.
 

ajm55555

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I agree with this, big cuts I would not make in early spring. They bleed a lot then.
Just mark the ones you want to cut when you have a clear view and do the work in the next growing season.
Well I was thinking at medium/small cuts. I join you all and agree that if it's major cuts you should probably not do them now because the tree will heal much slowly.
With medium sized cuts on secondary branches, I always seal them and had no problems so far.
 

AndyJ

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Thank you for your quick replies. I'm confused here..... If you cut off big branches / trunks in the middle of the growing season, wont the tree bleed out? If it's growing fast, how doesn't this kill it / set it back? I thought I had to do this type of pruning when the tree is dormant....
 

papymandarin

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i never had bleeding during the growing season, only when doing cuts too early at the end of winter. Bleeding is actually not sap, it's water pumped passively in vessels because of the alternance of temperature from freezing night to sunny days at the end of winter/beginning of spring. As soon as the tree begins to be physiologically active this is stopping because then real sap is circulating (that's why maple syrup is gathered only at the end of winter, it's stopping to bleed as soon as the trees resume growth). And it's hardly very dangerous for the tree (since it's not really sap). Just my experience.
 

AndyJ

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Okey Dokey!! Thanks for all your replies folks. I'll leave this one until end of June / beginning of July

Andy
 

leatherback

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@William N. Valavanis also says a similar thing. The quality of both these artists' trees speak for themselves.
Would also be some flaw in plants wouldn't it: That an animal passing by and having a munch, or a storm breaking some branches, would cause a plant to die. :)
 
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Here in the land of maple syrup, we draw sugar water from trees under vacuum (new school) or gravity (old school); the same trees, for over a century sometimes without skipping a year.

When I was starting out I kept reading/hearing about the potential for maples to die from bleeding, but every nursery in Quebec that I consulted about this thought I had to have been joking.

(Fun fact: if you put your lips to a tap and let the sugar water freely run into your mouth (gravity), the water is 'pure' and sweet, but if you suck on the tap the taste of the sugar water has 'woody' elements (vacuum). Depending on personal taste, the latter is viewed as an added layer of 'complexity', or as an impurity).
 

AndyJ

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Hi folks.

Just to pick this up again, what would be the correct timing for trunk chops? I don't know if I'm over thinking it but if I want to do a trunk chop, I'm guessing I make sure its done before spring - in order to take advantage of spring growth? Sometime before the sap starts flowing? i.e. between now and, say, March? But this would mean cuts being made before strong tree growth in the middle of the growing season?

Thanks all

Andy
 

leatherback

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The benefit from doing this in the growing season, after the primary flush is that you get a slower regrowth, with closer internodes. If you do it before budburst, all the stored energy is put in the new trunk. So rapid growth. But very coarse. afaik.
 

AndyJ

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The benefit from doing this in the growing season, after the primary flush is that you get a slower regrowth, with closer internodes. If you do it before budburst, all the stored energy is put in the new trunk. So rapid growth. But very coarse. afaik.
So trunk chop would still be done in the middle of the growing season? This goes against a lot of horticultural practices that I have learned over the years for shrubs and roses etc. I've got to retrain my brain for trees!! Thanks Leather.

Andy
 

Cable

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When I was starting out I kept reading/hearing about the potential for maples to die from bleeding, but every nursery in Quebec that I consulted about this thought I had to have been joking.
I asked the owner of the nursery where I work about the “common knowledge” that you don’t prune jap maples in the spring or they’ll bleed out. He laughed and told me our growers are required to complete their pruning by April!
 

Lorax7

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(Fun fact: if you put your lips to a tap and let the sugar water freely run into your mouth (gravity), the water is 'pure' and sweet, but if you suck on the tap the taste of the sugar water has 'woody' elements (vacuum). Depending on personal taste, the latter is viewed as an added layer of 'complexity', or as an impurity).
The “woody” elements in the sugar water come from vanillin. Vanillin is also the component that is leeched from wood when alcoholic beverages are aged in wood barrels. It’s what makes your top shelf liquor taste good.
 

Sifu

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So trunk chop would still be done in the middle of the growing season? This goes against a lot of horticultural practices that I have learned over the years for shrubs and roses etc. I've got to retrain my brain for trees!! Thanks Leather.

Andy
But if you do a trunk chop in the middle of growing season isn't there a high risk that you get your fresh wound diseased? Same question goes for maple's "bleeding": sure it won't damage your tree, but wouldn't sap from a maple attract pets and diseases?
Isn't it safer to do a trunk chop at the end of winter or maybe even at the end of fall? (I have in mind real trunk chop, when no branches, or almost no branches, are left, only trunk.)
 
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leatherback

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high risk that you get your fresh wound diseased? Same question goes for maple's "bleeding": sure it won't damage your tree, but wouldn't sap from a maple attract pets and diseases?
Isn't it safer to do a trunk chop at the end of winter or maybe even at the end of fall
Ehm.. in summer the plant is active, and thus able to seal wounds quickly. In winter, when the plant is dormant, it will not fix fresh wounds till spring. So no, in summer wounds are closed more easily than in winter.
 

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