This is a post about pruning. Get it... prunes?!?!
Friday humor aside, pruning is important to help trees develop straight trunks (increases their timber value) and encourages healthy growth. Pruning also helps raise the canopy to make mowing easier and keeps the trees looking nicer.
The photo above shows a black walnut tree that has been neglected. The tree is seven years old and has never been pruned.
This tree is growing in a 2.2 acre field that was planted in 2004. Unlike many of the plantings on Arington Tree Farm, an alternating hardwood row, conifer row method wasn't used. As a result many of the trees in this field are growing like bushes, out and up. The conifers that are used in the alternating row method grow fast. And, as a result they shade out the lower parts of the hardwoods and thus encourage growth up. (To learn more about the alternating hardwood-conifer method of planting, click here and scroll down to "Planting Arrangement.")
Best practices are to prune within 4 years of planting; a bypass pruner can be used to make it a quick and easy job. A general rule is to only remove a quarter to a third of the foliage. If a large amount of pruning is needed to correct the tree, it's best done over a few years time. That is exactly what I plan on doing. Therefore, keep in mind that this is just the first of many prunings to come for the tree.
See below for an "after" shot, showing the same black walnut after it has been pruned. (Click on the photos for a larger view.)
Another walnut, before pruning