I have 6 year old maple tree that was grown from a seedling. It is now
about 15 feet in height. About 23 inches up from the ground the trunk
splits in a tight Y-shape. The branches from the Y curve upwards nd
grow almost vertical. There is a crack forming in the crotch of the Y.
Coming out of the ground, the trunk is about 3 1/2 inches in diameter.
Once the trunk forms the Y there is a dominant branch (about 2 1/2
inches in diameter) and a smaller branch (about 2 inches in diameter.
I've been told to cut off the smaller branch to prevent the tree from
splitting at the Y-shape. Is this good advice?
If I cut the smaller branch off, the remaining dominant branch will
then be the trunk of the tree. It will appear to be growing off
vertical at the former Y-point. Will this correct itself as the tree
The main question here is appearance, as a single leader trunk might
look more appropriate. This problem would have been easier if you
would have attacked it when the tree was much younger. At this point,
I would recommend leaving the tree, as it is. The two branches are too
big now to try and straighten. An arbortist or tree surgeon might have
a better idea what to do. Perhaps some kind of steel band to prevent
further widening of the crack
I don't think so. There will always be a bend in the trunk at that point.
If the point is to preserve both branches, it can be done with
hardware, but not a steel band! That's like putting a noose around
the tree's neck.
The preferred method is to drill through the trunk and put a bolt
through it (probably at a couple of places).
But, in the case of a small tree like this, I prefer to remove one
branch (the smaller, most likely). I think doing it in two stages, as
suggested earlier, is a good idea.
As for the deflection in the trunk, don't worry about it. It won't go
away, exactly, but when the trunk is 12" or 24" in diameter, such a
small aberration will be vitually unnoticeable. At worst, it will add
character to the tree in its old age.
ISA Certified Arborist #TX-0236AT
No. A tree grows by adding layers of tissue to the outside of its
branches (increased diameter) and by extending shoots at its tips
(increased length/height). If you put a nail in the trunk today 3
feet above ground, it will still be 3' above ground the day the tree
dies, unless soil grade level changes. However, it will most likely
be absorbed and invisible (buried in the wood that forms around it).
Usually when correcting a y branched tree that has grown as long as
yours has you remove 1/2 the weaker stem to stunt it and allow the
stronger branch to grow larger.
About a year later you remove the rest of the weaker stem. This way the
wound is smaller.
The crack that has formed is not good, you want to correct problems
before these cracks occur.
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