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Friday, December 21, 2012

Be Careful Pruning Ash Trees

The tree on the right is ash and on the left is mulberry. The
mulberry has the ability to come back after severe pruning
due to some "hidden buds" or what can call
undifferentiated tissue that can regenerate new growth
while the ash does not and will frequently severely die back.
Q. We have two fantex ash trees that are 15 years old. They are spreading out too far. How far can we cut them back without killing them?

A. The problem with ash is that it does not have much ability to come back from cut limbs if you cut back too far and into larger wood. You should begin to structure the tree fairly early and stay on top of it but if you let it go too long and then cut it back you may have some problems.

            You can cut it back to side branches that are growing in a desirable direction but you cannot prune it back by what we call heading cuts (stubbing it back) and hoping these dead end cuts will resprout. You can cut back into second or maybe three year old wood (there are still side buds remaining that can grow) but if you cut into a limb with no buds present, it will probably die back to a major limb.

Thinning  cut, removal of an entire limb, on
a peach tree.
            So cut a branch to a crotch going in the direction you want the limbs coming from that crotch to grow. If a limb is a problem, remove the entire limb back to its source. Do not leave any stubs (dead end cuts).

            I hope this makes sense. I will put on my blog a picture of a thinning cut made removing a larger limb.

1 comment:

  1. What an excellent (albeit sad) illustration of how NOT to prune ash trees. I read your story in today's RJ and tracked you down here. My neighbor has not pruned his Fan Tex Ash tree in 16 years (about the same as in your story). Now he wants to! I will forward your story and blog post to him. Hope it helps.