I pass by these two old apple trees on the way to work most mornings. You can see from the photos that the branch-union on the right side  of both trees had failed and half to one-third the tree is now mortally wounded. If you have a tree like this & you want to prevent this from occurring, it’s important to take some height and width off that branch (or leader) so that the branch union doesn’t have to bare as much weight. Also, try & leave some of the interior branches on those wide-stretching limbs. Interior branches can help dampen or balance the weight along a long limb, and can be used to prune back to (reduce) in case a catastrophic break should occur from decay, wind, snow-loading or even bears. 

Notice how the smaller tree has been completely denuded of all its interior branches making for a “tuft” of branches only growing at the end; This makes the branch especially vulnerable to failure since all the weight is extremely top or end-heavy.


Ryan Trapani

Director of Forest Services

Catskill Forest Association