PRUNING TYPE AFFECTS DECAY AND STRUCTURE OF CRAPEMYRTLE
Edward F. Gilman1 and Gary W. Knox
Abstract: Lagerstroemia ´ 'Natchez' trees were topped, pollarded, or not pruned for 4 consecutive years. The first time trees were pruned in 1998, pollarding required more time than topping. However, the time required to top trees increased in each subsequent year; pollarding time remained the same for each year. Longitudinal sections through stems showed that barrier zones and decay extended farther behind heading cuts on topped trees 5 years after the initial pruning than with the cuts on pollarded trees. Trees in the topping treatment formed a visible, dark-colored barrier zone along the cambium present at the time of wounding, averaging 74 cm (2.5 ft) in length, originating from the heading cuts made through 4- to 5-year-old wood. Barrier zone length on pollarded trees was only 1.8 cm (0.7 in) behind the original heading cuts through 2- to 3-year-old wood. Topping trees resulted in a sixfold increase in the volume of wood contained in dead stubs in the canopy compared to pollarding trees. Topping increased the need for cleaning the canopy of dead branches. A collar formed at the base of sprouts that were less than 0.64 the diameter of the largest sprout 5 years after the original heading cuts on trees in the topped treatment.
Keywords: Pollarding; topping; barrier zone; decay; restoration pruning; canopy cleaning