I have a number of Japanese black pines that are transitioning from the development stage to the refinement stage. The trunk has thickened to the desired size and I’m starting to focus on branch development. As for the tree below, I’m happy with the trunk, but need to encourage the future leader to thicken. To do this, I’m going to remove the sacrifice branch that was used to thicken the trunk.
Black pine started from seed in 2004
In the photo below, you can see that the sacrifice branch is much larger than the future leader. The plan is to remove the sacrifice branch and let the new leader grow freely for a couple of years. Letting the new leader grow will both thicken the new leader and accelerate the healing of the wound left by removing the sacrifice branch.
Sacrifice branch and new leader
As the sacrifice branch was fairly large, I used a saw to remove it.
After removing the sacrifice branch with a saw
The callus that forms after making a large cut will create a bump unless the area is gauged out with a chisel or knob cutter. I used a chisel in this case.
After gouging the cut area with a chisel
I covered the wound with cut paste to facilitate healing.
Wound sealed with cut paste
Here’s what the tree looked like after removing the sacrifice branch.
After making the cut
As the needles on the new leader shaded the lower branches, I removed them to let more light in. I also repotted the tree as the soil had become compact.
After pulling needles and repotting
Here’s a close up that offers a better idea about what the future tree will look like.
The future tree
I expect the remaining sacrifice branch to remain in place for about two years. At that point I’ll determine whether or not it can come off. If it can, I expect I’ll be done with sacrifice branches on this tree and will turn my attention to branch refinement.