Agricultural News: Simple Steps for Pruning Yard Trees


Courtesy of Dr. Mercker,

UT Extension Forester

   Sometimes the trees in our yard need a bit of pruning, but incorrect pruning can lead to diseased or damaged trees. UT Extension Forester, Dr. Mercker, offers the following steps to properly prune your trees:

•Prune in the months of Dec – Feb. Pruning during the growing season may attract insects that in turn can serve as vectors for pathogens. Further, pruning during the fall will leave an open wound that coincides with the spread of fungal spores. Winter pruning sidesteps these issues.

•Prune as little as needed to satisfy the objectives, preferably no more than about 10-15% of the live branches.

•Do not prune flush to the trunk, nor leave a “stub.” Instead, there will be a slight swelling at the union of the branch with the trunk. This swelling, known as callus tissue (or branch collar), should remain after the pruning. The wound will cover the pruning scar better if the callus tissue is left. This is very important. The area outlined in yellow in the photo shows the branch collar.

•Sterilize the pruning tools prior to cutting by spraying Lysol on them.

•If larger limbs are to be cut, it is advised to make an “undercut” on the limb first. Otherwise, by cutting from the top downward without an undercut, may cause the branch to peel bark downward below the branch as the branch gradually falls, thereby creating an even larger wound.

•Do not apply a dressing or salve to the wound. Healthy trees will grow over the wound after a year or two. Dressings will hinder this. An exception would be for very large wounds on very old trees.

•Stick to pruning the lower, understory limbs if at all possible. Likely those are limbs beginning to decline anyway.

   Visit Back Porch Forestry’s YouTube page for educational sessions on trees, forests and forest management at As always, feel free call our office at 931-722-3229 or e-mail Agent Megan Harris at for additional information or assistance.

Upcoming Event

   The annual Hardin County Feeder Calf Sale will be Monday, August 10 at the Hardin County Stockyard. The sale is to begin at 8 pm. You can consign your calves by calling the Stockyard at 722-3100 or by calling the Wayne County Extension Office at 722-3229.

   Remember this is steers and heifers only. No bulls will be taken. Deadline to consign your calves will be August 5.