Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Don't let pecan trees get top heavy

   Earlier this year, I showed you how to use directive pruning to prevent a tree from developing a bushy, leaderless top. The photo at right is a great example of what can happen when a bushy, multi-stem top is allowed to grow unchecked.  After the foliage of this tree was soaked by a recent rainstorm, the added weight of water on the foliage was enough to bend the tree down to the ground. Fortunately, the main trunk did not break but this tree needed my immediate attention.
  Since the top of the tree was so close to the ground, I took a quick photo of the tree's apex (photo at left). I count five new shoots growing out of the top of last year's wood. With all that new growth at the very top of the tree, it is no wonder the tree became top-heavy during a rain storm.

    Fixing this tree was a two step process. First, I pruned the top of the tree. I selected one shoot to be the central leader then employed the 2-foot rule to prune the rest of the tree. I did all this pruning while the tree was still bent over on the ground (no need for a ladder!). The second step was to install a ten foot tall tree training stake to hold the tree upright. I attached the stake to the base of the trunk using some white electrical tape (white? its just what I had on hand). Next, I lifted the tree up and used additional wraps of tape to hold the tree in place against the wooden stake (photo at right). As this tree increases in diameter over the summer, it should gain enough wood strength to hold itself up without the wooden stake.