Hope for fallen tree?

I've got a young 4-in-1 plum tree that was blown over a couple of weeks ago. Thing is, it didn't break completely through and the bark seems undisturbed on one side. Not only did the tree not die, it's still growing. Is there any chance that this thing might go on to heal and live a healthy life, if propped up sturdily enough, or is it a lost cause? If I had to replace, this would be a good time, except that nobody seems to be offering these right now.
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It really depends on how big is the break. The tree needs a path of cambium growth to feed the upper branches. A tree with it's trunk completely girdled, that is broken cambium (the green layer just underneath the bark) all the way around, will not survive. You can do some fancy 'bridging' grafts to re-establish this path. However, if there is sufficient continuous cambium left, the tree may still survive. You may have to do some work splinting the broken area and staking the tree for support. It all depends on how much work you want to put into it. If the tree is adversely effected, you will begin to see die off starting at the top of the tree and working it's way down. This could be quick, or it may take a few seasons to completely go. Young fruit trees typically need staking until their trunks widen enough, especially grafted dwarf varieties which could break at the graft. This is especially true if the tree is out in the open in an unprotected spot. You can try and repair this one, and see what happens.
Sherwin D.
snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:

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I like the tree, and I would like to save it. I planted it last spring as a four-foot stick, and it's already grown to about 10 feet tall and borne fruit once. Is that abnormally fast growth? Would that help account for its breaking? It broke below the graft, and it's next to a fence, so it's not really unprotected. It lost a limb earlier this year, so maybe it's weak-wooded.
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That seems like rapid growth for such a tree. This may be due to an extensive root system on the root stock causing the tree to put out a lot of matching top growth. Plum is in the cherry family, which is normally a hard wood, but this rapid growth may have caused the tree to develop softer wood. If you support the tree as I mentioned earlier, the trunk will eventually thicken up and the tree will be less prone to break. Although it is next to a fence, if it is upwind of the prevailing winds in your area, it will still take the full impact of these winds. If you lost the limb because of too much fruit on it, try thinning more aggressively. Another possibility is some animal, like a deer breaking the branches or pushing the tree over.
Sherwin
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On 9 Oct 2005 15:18:35 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:

If the new growth is coming from below the break (or, more to the point, below the graft), it won't fruit true to the variety.
If you right the tree, don't try to hold it together by wrapping string, wire, or whatever, around the trunk. It will act like a noose and kill the tree later (probably). Instead, drill through the trunk perpendicular to the split and bolt the two sides together (at least two places, maybe more if it is a long split--drill in slightly different directions for each rof so the holes won't create a new split between them). Use threaded rod ("all-thread") and nuts/washers big fender washers to help distribute the load over a wider spot). Used to be recommended to cut away a circle of bark under the hardware, but now we don't bother--the compressed bark acts like a second washer/shock absorber.
Based on your description, I imagine you will need a pretty major staking operation, as well, and the tree will always need the external support. This is contrary to what you might hear in general, since the staking should be removed after a year from a good tree (maybe more for fruits, based on earlier post--I'm not an orchardist). A split branch or trunk will never knit back together. Even with the bolts and everything, tree movement may actually lengthen the crack over time.
I wouldn't spend a whole lot of money on this, but since you like the tree and can't find another, it's worth a try. The actual hardware shouldn't cost all that much, and if you have a good drill it will be pretty easy. Don't be too disappointed, though, if things don't go well.
Good luck, Keith Babberney ISA Certified Arborist #TX-0236AT
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