Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Winterkill: Trace a Branch to Determine if it is Dead - Repair Winter Damage

Scraped Trace reveals Greenwood
 Pruning out dead wood on woody ornamentals is a continual job and a skill Crabapple LandscapExperts have developed when pruning the properties you manage. Sometimes it is obvious that wood is dead:
  • No leaves or dead leaves amid green leaves 
  • Brown needles 
  • Bark is dead 
  • Presence of fungus growing on dead wood
Other times, it's necessary to run a test in order to scientifically determine if the branch is dead or not, and to recognize where the winter kill ends. 

When to Trace
Scrape the branch to determine if any greenwood is present beneath the bark. Tracing is especially useful in late January and in February, when deciduous woody ornamentals are leafless and “everything looks dead”.

Obviously dead branch
bark is peeling off
Make a small wound or scrape on the bark of the suspected twig or branch. With a thumbnail, a pruning knife or open pruners, shave a thin slice of bark off of the branch about the size of a fingernail. Check for greenwood which is actually the active cambium layer. When Crabapple finds green color, we know the branch is alive. A dull or olive green color is not as promising as a bright, light green with moist sap, but any green means the branch is not dead yet. Completely brown means the branch is dead.

“Trace back” down the branch is a good way to determine how far the die back extends, telling us where to prune the branch. Crabapple follows up with another trace a bit further down the branch to determine the extent of the winter kill. After a pruning cut, the limb will resprout from dormant buds, typically at leaf nodes. 

Call your Crabapple Rep for all your winter pruning needs, 770-740-9739.

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