When pruning trees in late fall or winter judgement calls have to be made. The beautiful Chinkapin White Oak pictured below presented just such a judgement call. With oak trees good practice tells us to prune out “V” type branches in favor of a shape more like an “E”. One look at the picture below shows that there is a major “V” type branch.
It is harder to see in the picture, but the branch on the right isn’t the main trunk, but it is a very major part of the tree. For a number of years I didn’t have the courage to prune that branch out because it was such a large part of the oak. Well not making a decision ended up in a decision being made for me.
Yes you can see that a heavy wind storm caused that whole branch to blow down. The branch was still attached but on the ground so I had to cut it off. It has left this:
I believe this is not a viable tree any more. But, because it is an young oak tree I believe I can coppice this tree. Coppicing is a traditional method of woodland management in which certain trees are cut down for their wood and then new stems grow and can be trained into a new tree. The stems grow very fast because the root system is very robust. I will be cutting this tree down to the ground this winter as is the practice with coppicing. I did this with a young malformed black walnut this past year and it has grown a new stem seven feet tall during the growing season. I hope that this Chinkapin Oak has similar growth.