Storm Damaged Tree Report

Home Grown  by Keith Reed
The wind and lightning storm that rolled through the area two weekends ago inflicted quite a bit of tree damage to parts of the area. If the calls we received in the Extension office are any indication, it looks like the southwest part of Stillwater was the hardest hit. While much of the cleanup has already been done, more work likely lies ahead for some of us. Consider the following as it applies to your storm-damaged landscape.

If possible, it’s always a good idea to clean up ragged limb breaks with a nice clean cut made according to proper standards. It’s a bit involved to go into too much detail in this column but the general idea is to go back to the next healthy branching angle to make the cut. Leaving a stump is almost as bad as leaving the ragged break in that it will be an invitation for insects and diseases to move in. A proper pruning cut will assist the tree in protecting itself from these attacks as the wound calluses over (think scab in human terms).

It is also quite possible that we will see some limbs browning off over the next few weeks in cases where they were cracked or broken but are still attached to the tree. These should also be removed as there is no possibility that they will heal up properly.

The need to apply pruning paint or other cut treatments has generally fallen out of favor in resent years. It simply has not proven itself to be effective and in some cases it can even inhibit the trees ability to protect itself.

A word of caution! PLEASE take great care if you are attempting to do your own tree work. Things can get very ugly really quickly when trees, people, saws and ladders are involved. It is very easy to underestimate the size and weight of a tree limb and lives are severely altered or lost in far too many tree trimming situations.

Another important tree care topic surfaced in the storm. There were several mature trees broken completely off at or near the ground. In every situation I’ve looked at, there was extensive decay in these trees. In some cases, the decay was not apparent from the exterior or the overall condition of the canopy. We’ll continue the discussion on some causes for this with next week’s column.

For more information on this or any other horticultural topic, you can contact Keith Reed, the Horticulturist in the Payne County Extension office. Keith can be reached via email at, phone at 405-747-8320, or in person at the Payne County Extension office, located at 315 W. 6th in Stillwater.

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