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Arboriculture & Urban Forestry Online
Volume 47, Issue 3 — May 2021

Structural Pruning in Callery Pear Does Not Change Apparent Branch Union Strength in Seventh Year Static Load Field Testing

Richard G. Rathjens, T. Davis Sydnor, Jason Grabosky, and Gregory Dahle

Abstract: Callery pear (Pyrus calleryana) is a tree notorious for poor branch union and breakage during storms. Structural pruning is a pruning technique that can be practiced on young trees to strengthen tree branch attachment. Callery pear (Pyrus calleryana ‘Redspire’) was structurally pruned and allowed to grow for 7 years and compared to an unpruned control. A breaking device was used to determine branch strength by providing a static load to simulate a snow or ice load. Branches from pruned and unpruned trees were pulled to failure to observe any difference from pruning. Regardless of the structural pruning treatment, trees that were unpruned were larger in diameter at breast height (DBH) and width at the end of the test. No differences were found in testing branch union strength for either pruned or unpruned trees, suggesting that more time is needed to determine the long-term benefits of structural pruning. Branch tissue moisture content was greater than trunk tissue both in immediate post-harvest testing and in samples over time. Also, branch moisture content observations suggested the time available for field testing branch union strength could be as much as 5 to 9 days after harvest.

Keywords: Branch Union; Callery Pear; Structural Pruning

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