Pruning Wounds and Occlusion: A Long-Standing Conundrum in Forestry

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The proper method for branch removal is a long-standing question in forestry. If the branch is cut flush with the stem, a larger wound results, but if the branch is cut further from the stem, the resultant clearwood production will be less. Both alternatives have implications for tree health and wood quality. A long, international history of forest pruning research generally indicates that a cut parallel and close to the stem will maximize clearwood production without excessive stem decay. Some exceptions exist for species where potential for stem decay is high. The method recommended in most guidelines for all types of pruning is an outside branch collar approach based primarily on a small number of observational studies. However, maintaining tree health and maximizing clearwood production are not mutually exclusive and a cut close to the stem can meet both objectives. Alternative approaches to branch removal may be useful for other objectives.

Keywords: forest pruning; natural target pruning; occlusion; stand management; wound recovery

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: April 1, 2007

More about this publication?
  • The Journal of Forestry is the most widely circulated scholarly forestry journal in the world. In print since 1902, the Journal has received several national awards for excellence. The mission of the Journal of Forestry is to advance the profession of forestry by keeping forest management professionals informed about significant developments and ideas in the many facets of forestry: economics, education and communication, entomology and pathology, fire, forest ecology, geospatial technologies, history, international forestry, measurements, policy, recreation, silviculture, social sciences, soils and hydrology, urban and community forestry, utilization and engineering, and wildlife management. The Journal is published bimonthly: January, March, May, July, September, and November.
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