When the trunk of a tree has reached the desired thickness, I evaluate the sacrifice branches to see if it makes more sense to remove them all at once or to remove them in stages.
In many cases, removing large branches can cause vigorous new shoots to develop. This is especially true for species like black pine that can produce new growth in response to summer pruning.
By pruning and decandling sacrifice branches instead of removing them, I can prevent the tree from producing growth that’s too strong on the lower branches.
Here’s a sixteen-year-old pine that’s ready for cutback and decandling. The trunk has reached the desired size so it’s time to focus on branch development.
Container-grown black pine
I shortened the sacrifice branches, decandled the remaining new shoots, and removed most of the old needles. I left more foliage on the lower branches that will be used in the final design.
After reducing the sacrifice branches and decandling – 29″ tall
I plan to do general cutback and needle thinning in fall and will consider removing the largest sacrifice branch next spring. At that point I’ll have a better idea about what the next step will be and how to move towards it.
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