The Q&A Archives: Pruning Birch

Question: I have birch tree with a dead and rotting branch off the trunk. Can I cut it off below the rotten portion and if so how should I treat the fresh cut and can I do so at this time of year?

Answer: You should prune the dead branch off as soon as possible. Try to cut it off flush with the branch collar on the trunk. If you look closely at where the branch is attached to the trunk, you'll see a slight swelling on the trunk. Cut the branch close to, but don't damage the collar. This will allow the collar to grow over the wound. Don't leave a stub, and be sure to undercut the branch before you make your cut from above, to avoid tearing the bark or damaging the collar. You don't need to treat the wound with anything - the tree will close the wound in time.

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