Autumn Blaze Maple 2 Leaders - with Pics!... 'Use this thread'

rass(6)April 16, 2009

I think I might have this pictures thing worked out. Lets try this again.... Sorry bout the other dup posting. You have to be a code writer to post pics here I guess. Anywho...

I have an autumn blaze maple that I planted 3-4 years ago and shes doing great with lots of growth. It does have a co-dominant leader. I am wondering if I should cut one of them off? Or should I leave them both alone?? The pictures attached should illustrate what I'm up against. The "Y" is @7.5' up. The leader circled in red looks like it was an offshoot that started off as a branch but then grew straight upward to compete for leader position. The crotch looks tight. They are now both equal size.

Also, the lowest branch is 41" from ground level. Do I cut these lower branches off as well? how high do I go? and most importantly, WHEN do I prune? Now a good time? or too late? Oh, and the tree is planted 18' from the corner of my home.

Any thoughts?

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whaas_5a(5A SE WI)

Do not prune it now, unless you want sap flowing all over the place. Its the worst time to prune maples right any nursery and they'll say the same.

I would recommend cutting the highlighted leader as long as you can live with the gap. It will fill back in within a few years ecspecially if that area gets south and/or west sun exposure. Otherwise the crotch angle isn't "too" bad.

I'd prune out that co-dominant lead early summer or late fall. You can also prune out that 1 lowest branch. Leave the others there for a couple years to help develop the trunk girth.

Just make sure you don't prune more than 25% of the crown within a given year.

I can post a picture of my maple if you want, I just pruned out a co-dominant leader this fall. Same situation, it was a Y, with one obivous leader and co-leader. Mine is about 5ft. taller than yours.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2009 at 4:22PM
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So if I read you right, cut that highlighted leader completely off flat - where it stems off of the other leader and wait until late June thru fall to cut, right? I think that the co-dominant leader would be close to 50% of the crown so do I cut it all of the way off at once? My red oval should have outlined more branches connected to that leader.

Yes, post a pic if you get a chance. It would be nice to compare. and Thanks again... I did read your follow up response on my other failed thread.

Does anyone else want to chime in any of there opinions?

    Bookmark   April 16, 2009 at 5:18PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

If you look at the 'south closeup, you'll see the two proximal branches that emerge almost together. I would prune your secondary leader back to that point, and then prune each of those two branches back to the first secondary branch that is directionally appropriate. This will allow you to keep that secondary leader as part of the tree's o/a composition while eliminating it as competition to the main leader.


    Bookmark   April 16, 2009 at 8:54PM
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so your saying that I should not take the second leader completely off. Just take it down to were the first 2 branches come off of it? Would this be better than taking it off completely? maybe because of growth or is it because it may make the tree look off balance?

Oh, and I want to double check; I can prune this maple it the beginning of summer? or should I wait till late fall?

    Bookmark   April 20, 2009 at 9:28AM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

From what I can see, I wouldn't, but of course you have to live with the tree. I don't see any aesthetic drawbacks to doing what I suggested because the two branches we're talking about will emerge so close to the main leader that they will 'read' as originating from the main leader.

I have several maples in the landscape and a couple of dozen in containers. I prune healthy trees any time I feel like it - usually with a purpose/plan, but with no regard to 'bleeding'. I recommend late dormancy pruning for two reasons. Branches that need pruning and o/a form are much more visible - the future growth habit of the tree more readily discernible, and the chance of disease spread is reduced greatly. The healing of any pruning wounds is more rapid in spring/early summer than at any other period in the growth cycle, so for me, that clinches the case for late winter/early spring pruning.

I've never seen a case documented where 'bleeding' affected the long or short term vitality of an Acer, much less a documented case of a tree 'bleeding to death'. I often suggest that if the sap flow is a concern - wait until the tree appears to be resting after the spring growth flush has matured. There should be very little bleeding then.

You can also make a case for late dormant pruning from an energy management perspective. What sense does it make to prune the growth off immediately after the tree has spent nearly all its energy reserves to build it. If you prune BEFORE budswell, the tree will move energy from the roots into the remaining organs and not the parts you intend to remove.


    Bookmark   April 20, 2009 at 10:08PM
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whaas_5a(5A SE WI)

I can't seem to figure out how to post pictures, otherwise I'd like to show you my maple.

As Al eluded to, late winter (late Feb/early Mar) is probably the "best" time to prue. Yes you can prune at anytime but if its a planned prune its best to avoid early spring or early fall...why assume the associated risks if you don't have to.

Al, from what I can tell the combination of the narrow crotch angle and girth of the co-leader tells me there will be issues with included bark in the future, no?

If you're still on the fence on what to do I can show this to a co-worker who was an arborist for a large local nursery and get is opinion.

Eitherway you have to wait until early summer at this point...the buds have already begun to swell.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2009 at 8:16PM
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That would be nice if you can show him the pics. I'd like all of the opinions I can get my hands on. Its interesting to learn the correct way. Definitely don't want to end up like my neighbor and hack trees without knowledge. I'll post a pic when I get the chance.

Jeez, its like, you have to be a code writer to post pics in here or something. It took me a long time to figure it out. Usually you can just up load it and be done with it but that's only on the 'post new message' page only. I can't type the example code in this message box because it wont appear correctly. If you gimme you email address and I will give you the directions if you want.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2009 at 9:38AM
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Thanks guys! Since its nor imperative now to take that Co-leader off, I will wait to prune at the optimal time of year.


    Bookmark   May 7, 2009 at 12:12PM
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