Handy tree pruning tips are available as Spring approaches


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Viewers get a live demonstration and handy pruning tips for trees.

As the Metro area sees signs of Spring, the time is right to revisit tree health. An expert Horticulturist from New Mexico State Universtiy was in the KRQE patio with pruning shears and some advice, including the following:

The bigger the wound, the harder the tree has to work and the longer it will take to seal it. This is why the best approach is to prune at the time of planting when the branches and pruning wounds are the smallest. Ideally, you will never have to prune it again. Here are some guidelines for selecting branches to prune at any stage of tree growth:

The ABC’s of pruning:

A is for Apical: Apical dominance pruning involves selecting and promoting a central leader, which is the main stem from the trunk up through the canopy to the top of the tree. Apical just means apex or tip. Most trees are pruned for apical dominance and display the classic A-form tree: you can visually follow the main stem from the lowest branch up to the top of the tree in a relatively straight line as it tapers and supports lateral branches. Some fruit trees, like peaches, generate higher yields when sunlight is encouraged to get into the inner canopy using an “open-center” form instead of the A-form. Another example of a tree that didn’t read the book about correct form might be a beautiful desert willow that has multiple stems starting from a V-vase shaped trunk.

B is for Bad: Prune out the bad branches that are weak and might pose a hazard if they were to fall. Damaged, diseased, or structurally defective branches may be detrimental to the long-term health and structure of the tree. Take the time to determine if serious pests like cankers or galls are the cause of decay, malformations, or cracks. If infectious diseases are present, you’ll need to keep tools clean so that you are not spreading problems from plant to plant. If you need help identifying a pest, contact the NMSU Plant Diagnostic Clinic. In the meantime, disinfect pruning tools between cuts.

C is for Competing: Competing branches grow in ways that impede the growth of other branches, like rubbing, or cause clearance issues, like for pedestrians. These branches may not be competing yet, but if you foresee that you will have to prune one of them eventually, go ahead and take it out now.

D is for Dead: Dead branches go first. It can be difficult to identify a dead branch in the winter though, but luckily it’s always a good time to prune a dead branch, so when you see one, go ahead and prune it out, regardless of the season.

For more information and upcoming events, visit the NMSU website.

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