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TreePro Professional Tree Care
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Heavy Rains Cause Tree Failures in Sonoma County
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Plant virus linked to bee colony collapse
A blog article from your local Santa Rosa Tree Service
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Aphids in January?
A new blog article from your local Santa Rosa tree service
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How to Prune a Japanese Maple in Santa Rosa

Japanese Maple trees growing in Santa Rosa require extra care when they are pruned.  Our warm summers with hot winds can cause leaves to dry and become wind burned.

Read More:  http://treeprosonoma.com/index.php/blog/entry/how-to-prune-a-japanese-maple-in-santa-rosa
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Pruning a Santa Rosa Plum Tree

The Santa Rosa Plum variety was developed by Luther Burbank in 1906. This plum variety is to this day one of the favorite of home orchardists and commercial growers.

Read More:  http://treeprosonoma.com/index.php/blog/entry/pruning-a-santa-rosa-plum-tree
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Caring for Your Trees During the Current Drought

With the Governor of California declaring a drought emergency and some Bay Area communities already starting to institute water rationing, our trees may be in trouble.

Read More:  http://treeprosonoma.com/index.php/blog/entry/caring-for-your-trees-during-the-current-drought
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How to Prune a Japanese Maple in Santa Rosa

Japanese Maple trees growing in Santa Rosa require extra care when they are pruned.  Our warm summers with hot winds can cause leaves to dry and become wind burned.  It is best to prune trees during the cool season when trees are dormant.  It is also a good idea to provide trees with extra irrigation especially during warm periods.  This year we are having very low rainfall so providing extra irrigation to your Japanese Maples and all your trees and shrubs is advisable.

There are two typical growth patterns for Japanese Maples. The first type are upright varieties like the common green Acer Palmatum or the Bloodgood cultivar which has
burgundy foliage.  The second type of growth pattern is the weeping variety such as
Acer Palmatum Dissectum autopurpureum.   

All Japanese Maples have a decurrent growth pattern.  Decurrent trees have spreading limbs as opposed to excurrent trees like conifers with a single trunk and mostly horizontal branching.  When training trees with decurrent growth it is important to establish good structure in the tree as early as possible.  Early training of all trees is essential in promoting strong branch attachments to reduce branch failures as trees mature.  

Pruning Upright Japanese Maple Trees

The most typical branch failures in Japanese Maple trees is either at the trunk area where trunks meet with a "V" shaped attachment or in upper limbs with the same "V" shape.   Limbs that have horizontal attachments are stronger because there is more tissue surrounding the attachment area where the branch meets the trunk.  

Pruning to develop proper structure

When pruning your Japanese Maple tree the goal should be to promote horizontal branch attachments as much as possible.  Leave lower limbs on the tree because they add strength and caliper to the trunk.  It is also important to establish a dominant trunk as close to the center of the tree as possible.  Japanese Maples will always have a multi-trunked form but keeping the center trunk larger and more dominant will provide a better tree structurally and also develop a tree with an aesthetic form as the tree matures. To promote a dominant area the of tree you must prune the other trunks and branches to reduce their size and foliage.  By pruning areas of the tree other than the main trunk these trunks will grow more slowly because they do not have as much leaf area to produce food and in turn the growth of these branches will be slowed.

Mistakes to avoid when pruning Japanese Maples

One of the most common mistakes people make when pruning Japanese Maples is to cut the top of the tree. Topping or heading cuts ruin the shape of your tree and promote decay at the heading areas.  Another common mistake is over pruning a tree.  The maximum amount of green foliage that should be removed in any season is 25%.  Pruning more than 25% can stress the tree.  Over pruning can also lead to sunburn of the bark. Japanese Maples have very thin bark which sunburns easily.

Types of pruning for Japanese Maples

 Reducing branches or crown shaping should be done by cutting a branch back to a smaller lateral branch.  The smaller branch should be 1/3 to 1/2 the diameter of the branch being cut.  Normally these type of shaping cuts are done to keep the smaller trunks in check so they do not grow too large or become too upright and compete with the dominant trunk.  Thinning the tree should be done to remove branches that are overcrossing or to reduce growth in the smaller trunks.  Crown cleaning is done to remove dead branches.  When Japanese Maples are grown in shady areas they will often develop interior dead branches.

Pruning weeping Japanese Maples trees

Weeping variety Japanese Maple trees tend to grow thickly with branches that curve downward and often cross over adjacent branches.  Some thinning is beneficial to reduce small branches dying from inadequate light.  However, it is important not to thin the trees too much which can lead to sunburn of the uppermost branches.  If possible, leave some foliage covering the top area of the tree to shade these branches.  Remove any watersprouts (sucker type branches) growing below the graft of the lower trunk.  

As weeping maples grown larger they often grow more horizontal than vertical because of their weeping growth pattern.  Crown shaping can reduce these horizontal limbs if necessary.   

Time of year to prune Japanese Maples

The best time for pruning Japanese Maple trees is the winter months when trees are dormant.  December and January are ideal months for pruning.  Light pruning can be done at any time of the year but pruning during a tree's dormant period is best.

A good resource for illustrations of different types of pruning is the ANSI A-300 Standards for tree pruning available from the International Society of Arboriculture at isa.arbor.org.  Google Images also has some illustrations under proper pruning.  More information is also available at TreePro Professional Tree Care in Santa Rosa at treeprosonoma.com.
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Pruning a Santa Rosa Plum Tree

The Santa Rosa Plum variety was developed by Luther Burbank in the 1900's.  This plum variety is to this day one of the favorite of home orchardists and commercial growers.

The best time to start pruning your Santa Rosa Plum Tree is a year after it is planted.  Early pruning to develop the proper structure is best done when a tree is young.  It is important to keep lower branches on the tree where the fruit can be easily picked.  To develop strong branch development prune out branches with high "V" shaped attachments.  These are more likely to fail as the tree grows.  Branches that attach to 
the trunk horizontally are strongest and should be retained.  

Fruit trees produce more fruit when they are encouraged to grow new branches each year.  Plums grow on last year's new wood.  This means that your best fruit production will occur on wood that was grown during the previous Spring and Summer.
The best way to promote new wood is to reduce the upper part of the branches each year.

 A good rule of thumb is to remove one third of the new growth and reduce the remaining branches by one third.  This keeps new branches growing each year and will keep your plum production high.  When reducing a branch you will want to cut to a lower lateral branch that is one third to one half the diameter of the branch you are cutting.  Remove any overcrossing branches but keep some interior branches on the lower tree where the fruit is easy to reach.  Too often fruit trees are overthinned in the lower tree and left to grow tall where the fruit is too high to reach.  Don't make that mistake when training your tree.  Keep the lower branches and reduce the taller limbs to encourage new fruiting wood that provides fruit that is easy to pick.

How large will a Santa Rosa Plum Tree grow?

A Santa Rosa Plum Tree can grow to 25 feet or more but is best kept at a height where you can reach the fruit.  Most people use a ladder or basket style fruit picker to reach taller branches.  So the height of your tree may best be kept where you can reach the fruit with your picker or ladder.  In commercial orchards trees are normally kept at the height of the pruning ladder being used to prune the trees.  

It is a good rule of thumb to follow in your home orchard as well.  Prune the tree to the height you are comfortable when working from a ladder.  I recommend having someone hold the ladder while you are working to prevent an accidental fall.  

Tools to use when pruning your Santa Rosa Plum Tree

The type of tool used to prune your tree will depend on the size of the branch to be pruned.  A good pair of hand pruners can cut a limb of 1/2 to 3/4 inch.  Larger branches can be pruned with a pair of loppers, a hand saw, or a pole pruner.  Make sure you have sharp tools in good condition prior to starting your pruning.  Trying to make a clean pruning cut with a dull pair of hand pruners or hand saw is frustrating and can even be dangerous.
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