Thread: help. new member with question.

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  1. #1

    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    usa, iowa, zone 5.

    help. new member with question.

    hello. i'm a new member from iowa. i have a problem with my favorite tree and i need to get some advice so i figured this is the place to ask. thanks in advance for any help.
    problem is my large american elm is splitting down the side because of how the tree has grown over the years. person who owned the place before me wasn't much for prunning his trees (this could have been avoided when the tree was young). anyway a cross branch has grown between two upright branches and is forceing the uprights apart creating a crack down the side of the tree. question is:

    a. will cutting the cross branch out help my situation?.

    b. can i cut the cross branch out without killing the tree. it's a big branch on a mature tree.

    c. if i do cut the branch out should i stablize the upright branches with a chain or something in the hopes the crack will seal up?

    i really hate to loose this tree. i realize it will be gone someday because of dutch elm desease but i want to hang on to it as long as i can. in the summer it is a really beutifull tree.

    i've included some pics hope they show up. i'll be gone for a couple days but will check back.

    i am at a loss as to what to do. i am concerned if i cut a branch that big i will kill the tree.

    thanks for any help.


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Western NY, Zone 6

    RE: help. new member with question.

    Welcome Scott.

    That's a big tree, and unless you have the right equipment and the *many years* of training, I would not hesitate to hire a certified arborist to remedy that problem. Pruning large trees is dangerous work, so a pro is a must in this case.

    To start, you can make use of your local County extension office (call your County in Iowa for more info) and get a horticulturalist out there (your taxes pay for them, no fees) to recommend the best approach. At the very least, a knowledgeable horticulturalist would know if that tree is in jeopardy or not, I can't tell from the photos alone and don't have the qualifications to make that call. My guess is that you would receive the same advice from the horticulturalist - hire a professional arborist to take care of the issue.

  3. #3

    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    usa, iowa, zone 5.

    RE: help. new member with question.

    hello upperhand and thanks for the reply. as you say i also figured a profesional would be the way to go so i did call around to the county extension office here. the guy i talked to was the right individual to ask (forgot his title) but he didn't seem to think he knew enough to advise me so he gave me the number of a private tree prunner/expert 2 counties away. paying a professional is not a problem so i called him but he never showed up, the guy did advise me to spray something on it after i cut the limb off.
    looks like i will have to do it myself. i can properly cut the limb etc with out getting hurt, it's a bit dangerous but i've done alot of that kind of thing and worse to be honest. my main concern is i don't know enough about trees to know what the chances are of killing a tree that mature when i cut a limb that big. from looking at the crack i get the feeling either i cut it or it going to split and die anyway(pbly this spring when the storms hit our area). but like i say i am no horticulturest and would feal terrible if i killed the thing. my kids would be p.oed also.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Western NY, Zone 6

    RE: help. new member with question.

    Cutting that limb off should not cause the tree any harm, if done properly. Make proper pruning cuts and ensure that you have done everything to make sure that limb doesn't fall and cause injury or property damage.

    I would wait until early Spring before cutting that limb, perhaps March when the weather is cooperative. Cutting before bud break is the best time, that will minimize stress to the tree and you shouldn't need to worry about pest or insect invasion as they are not yet active during early Spring. Don't put anything on the limb after cutting the limb cleanly and correctly, the tree will heal on its own, wound dressing will only increase the chance of infection and rot. You might also want to invest in some Bayer Advanced Tree and Shrub treatment (available at most home improvement stores and garden centers), and douse the entire root zone with it right after you're done removing that large limb. The Bayer Advanced will give the tree some added protection against pest invasion - it's a systemic treatment as it's absorbed by the entire tree through the roots.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    St. Louis zone 6

    RE: help. new member with question.

    Nice tree. It appears to be planted out in the open so I agree about going through the trouble to save it.

    I am going to disagree politely and side with the County guy's tree professional about the wound dressing in large part because of the great size of your tree and the size of the cut which must be made.

    1. That cut is going to be a foot across when you make it. It will take the tree who knows how long to encapsulate it. During that time UNDEFENDED heartwood will be exposed. Just like a 2x4 sitting untreated outside this wood cracks from temperature and moisture changes. The tree's defense against wood eating insects is largely the sap in the live portion of the bark. This will not help in your cut.

    2. That pruning cut will have to be at a terrible angle for water flow. Water is going to want to get into that exposed wood. Imagine a rainy 40 degree winter day. Water gets INTO the structural wood of the tree then freezes and expands so you get a bigger crack.

    That said I have no clue what to apply. My neighbor uses undercoating which doesn't seem right. I have seen a fella touting something called liquid copper fungicide. He didn't seem to have a financial stake in the matter. Medical care for trees is in its infancy. I wonder if a polyurethane type substance would kill the surrounding cambium. Or a natural deck sealer?

    An yes, I know trees have lived millions of years with no medical help. So have ppl and sure enough if I cut my finger someone comes by with hydrogen peroxide, neosporin and a bandage. Of course a few hundred years ago they treated illnesses with leeches lol.
    Zone 6, St. Louis, MO

  6. #6

    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    usa, iowa, zone 5.

    RE: help. new member with question.

    sounds like cutting the limb off isn't a threat to the life of the tree so i'll get that taken care of. any opinions as to whether that crack down the side of the trunk will heal up on it's own? i've seen people run a chain or similar between the two upright limbs to help anchor them but that looks kind of like a waste of time to me. i have a pair of fence stretchers that could actually pull the uprights back together but not sure if that would help or not.

    thanks again.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Western NY, Zone 6

    RE: help. new member with question.

    Can't really tell from the photos if that split/crack is really a concern or something that has long since healed over. If the tree is still growing vigorously and it perks up well in the Spring without a lot of die back, then I'd guess it would be ok.

    As Toronado mentioned, there are differing schools of thought on wound dressing. Arborists and horticulturalists around my area advise against its use, perhaps local climate plays a role in that opinion, I'm not sure. Either way, just make sure the job is done correctly before the tree breaks dormancy in the Spring.

  8. #8

    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    usa, iowa, zone 5.

    RE: help. new member with question.

    over the years i've heard both ways on useing tree dressing, seems to be about a 50/50 split on that one. not sure what i'll do maybe ask at earl may garden center and see if they have any of the latest and greatest wound dressing.
    in any event thanks upperhand and toronado for the advice it's gotten me started on the right plan. i'll post some pics when i get er down, hopefully i won't be under it when that happens.

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