Monday, March 13, 2017

Narrow crotch tear-out

     The other day, I spotted a young tree in my orchard with a wind-torn branch (photo at right). At first, all I was thinking was, "how did that happen?". But then, as I approached the tree, I immediately recognized the cause of the break--a narrow  crotch up in the center of the tree that I somehow missed during earlier pruning trips through the orchard. Just a month ago, I wrote about the importance of pruning out narrow "V" crotches to ensure that limbs don't tear out during wind storms. I guess its time to go back through the orchard again to make sure I didn't miss other narrow crotches.
    A closer look at the damage reveals that the tree basically split in two, right down the center of the tree (photo at left). At the top of the wound, you can see a bark inclusion that forms between the two halves of a narrow crotch. Under the pressure of strong winds, narrow crotch split apart and then one side ripped down the trunk for about 12 inches.
   I pruned off the bent and fractured limb and I left what was left of the central leader in place. Sometime before this tree breaks bud and grows a new crop of leaves, I'll need to place a brace up in the tree to prevent the weakened central leader from breaking over. I'll attach the brace to the tree using duct tape and keep the brace in place until the central leader grows enough wood to support itself (probably 2 years for this size tree).