Seeing a note on my calendar to finish decandling a pine, I headed outside and brought the pine below into the workshop.
Partially decandled black pine
The idea was to remove the weaker shoots ahead of the stronger shoots. Although I usually decandle all of a tree’s shoots on a single day, I occasionally remove the shoots in groups with the aim of balancing vigor across strong and weak areas of the tree (see decandling overview for details).
Before getting started, I looked closely at a shoot that had been cut last week and found that some summer buds had already set.
Summer buds below the cut
I wasn’t surprised that the buds had appeared just 10 days after decandling as we’ve been having sunny weather. What did surprise me was that I found similar buds on shoots that had yet to be decandled.
Summer buds forming on a shoot that hasn’t been decandled
This could be a common occurrence but I don’t remember seeing it before. It’s like the tree knows to produce buds everywhere after the first shoots have been decandled (which seriously brings the 10 day approach into question).
Going forward, I’ll look out for these buds before I start decandling.
While we’re on the topic, I wanted to make a pitch for an easy way to speed up decandling and reduce broken needles: by using tweezers to hold and remove the shoots to be cut.
My standard approach is to hold the scissors in my right hand and tweezers in my left. I use the tweezers to secure the shoot to be cut, and, when necessary, to move the shoot to whichever side allows me a better view of the area to be cut. Once the cut is made I can quickly flick the shoot out of the way.
Securing a shoot with tweezers
After making the cut
Using your fingers instead of tweezers works great on many trees, but when the shoots are small or the branch density great, it can be hard to reach places quickly that tweezers can get to with ease.
The pine below is a good example of a tree that’s fairly dense. As there’s no way my fingers can reach the inside shoots as quickly as a tweezers can, I prefer to use the tweezer approach.
When I’m pulling needles, I use the tweezers in my right hand and the scissors in my left, but that’s a topic for another day.
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