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Good Gardening: Broken Branches

John Fischer

Lane County Extension Master Gardener John Fischer here KLCC's Good Gardening.
Sometimes you can have too much of a good thing - especially if you are a fruit tree. This year's bumper crops of plums, peaches, and apples snapped off branches despite my attempts to brace the trees with sticks and ropes.And while tree pruning is normally done late Nov. through early March, removing a broken branch, or one that might fall in a dangerous way can be done at any time. Waiting for the leaves to fall, and picking the fruit before removal will make the job easier. Even winter pruning can produce some sap bleeding in many trees and shrubs. This is normal, and not something you should worry about.

Cutting the damaged branch beyond the break first, and then making a second cut will prevent the weight of the branch from peeling off bark on the trunk. And don't cut a branch flush with the trunk. Instead, leave the branch collar - that slight swelling where the branch connects to the trunk.
When you are done cutting, don't put anything on the cut branch end - it only invites disease, and gives pests a place to hide.
This is also a good time to plan for damage that ice or snow storms can bring. If the weight of a winter storm knocks over a tree in your yard, it may not be a lost cause. I have propped my quince tree up after both snow and ice storms, and now put a 2 by 6 in place for the winter- ok, and all of last summer too.

Credit John Fischer
Propping up broken branches can help them support fruit.

A sixty foot apple that tipped over during a heavy wet spring snowfall was too large to stand back up.  So now it is a horizontal 20-foot apple. It's easier to pick the fruit, easier to prune, and still produces a fine crop of juicy Gravenstein apples for pies, sauce, and the cider press.
I'm John Fischer with KLCC's Good Gardening.

Credit John Fischer
John Fischer's Gravenstein apple tree is toppled, but still producing fruit.

Copyright 2021, KLCC

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