keeping insects out of wounds

tenacre(Z5 SW MI)August 9, 2014

I've been wondering for years -- and asking anyone who might know -- if there's anything that can be done for a wounded tree to help it recover.

I've seen several cases now where the wound was minimal, and should have been compartmentalized quickly by the tree with few problems, but insects took up shop and caused further damage and brought in all manner of fungus, virus, and bacteria which made a mess the tree was unable to handle.

So I've focused on the problem of keeping insects out of the wound.

The problem is, how to keep insects out without harming the living tree tissue which is trying to compartmentalize?

Does anyone here know if there any ongoing scientific research on this topic?

In the past, I've sprayed a dilute solution of Tea Tree oil, which seems to discourage insects and also has mild anti-microbial properties, and doesn't seem to hurt the living tree tissue. But it's not 100% effective, and must be re-applied often because it washes off when it rains.

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subtropix

The research I am aware of emphasizes NOT to use any tree dressings to try to seal off a wound (the black tar stuff available in a spray for example). I don't see any problem though with the use of the oils. I am not sure though that insects, ants for example, actually cause damage. I think they are benefiting from any damage. I would say, that the more damage you have, the more insects you are going it see. I have had a number of trees damaged in the annual deer rut (November here) over the years. I can't tell you how many times I have worried about the tree dying (ginkgo, magnolia, cedar, etc.. ! They somehow seem to pull though...but not immediately, over the course of maybe three years. Last year, it was an Atlas Cedar (first year in the ground) with up to 50% of the circumference of the trunk damaged. I did worry when I saw ants though, so I try to keep the wounded and recovering side clean and hose down the injury frequently. I am seeing many fewer ants definitely, so I feel the general health of the tree is improved and it has shown new growth.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2014 at 1:11PM
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brandon7 TN_zone(7)

There are specific cases where certain insects are attracted to wounds and then cause problems, but those cases are not the norm. What types of trees are we talking about, and what type of insects do you find to be a problem?

    Bookmark   August 9, 2014 at 1:14PM
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tenacre(Z5 SW MI)

I'm aware that the current conventional wisdom is just leave the tree alone.

But after 13 years of observing trees on my property I am convinced that there are cases where this is the wrong course of action.

I'm not talking about "sealing" the wound with paint or tar.

People with a substantial financial interest in the health of their trees (think orchard owners here) regularly spray oils.

Try this experiment: Get a clean glass bottle. Slightly dampen a facial tissue and place it inside. Find an earwig and carefully catch it and put it in the bottle without harming it, and screw the top on. Put it inside where it will stay cool and not get direct sunlight. Come back 3 weeks later and look at the mess inside.

Here is a link that might be useful: earwig

This post was edited by tenacre on Sat, Aug 9, 14 at 15:31

    Bookmark   August 9, 2014 at 3:28PM
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brandon7 TN_zone(7)

Sorry, but I can see no relevance to your original question in the orchard example or the earwig example. Maybe I am missing your logic, but it seems like you are grasping at everything and scaring yourself needlessly.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2014 at 9:52PM
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tenacre(Z5 SW MI)

> brandon7 7 TN Sat, Aug 9, 14 at 21:52
> Sorry, but I can see no relevance to your original question
> in the orchard example or the earwig example.
>Maybe I am missing your logic, but it seems like you are grasping
>at everything and scaring yourself needlessly.

Relax. What part don't you understand? I will try to explain it to you in different words.

.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2014 at 11:13PM
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toronado3800 Zone 6 StLouis(6)

I have an Acer rubrum which is probably on year 4 of 7 or so to encapsulate a pruning wound.

The year after making the cut the structural wood in the tree was splitting as it dried. Ants found their way into the trunk and some kind of canker disease was attacking and winning a battle against the wound sealing wood on the right side of the cut.

I cut out the canker and still had ants to deal with. So, rather than watch them carve tunnels in a tree I like I gave the wound a bath in some insecticide which could also be used on fruit trees. Then I gave it a couple more and presto, the ants are gone. Every so often I spray it if I have a sprayer out.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2014 at 12:25AM
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tenacre(Z5 SW MI)

> toronado3800 Z6 St. Louis Sun, Aug 10, 14 at 0:25
> I have an Acer rubrum which is probably on year 4 of 7 or so
> to encapsulate a pruning wound.

Thanks for that post. Could you post a picture please?

> The year after making the cut the structural wood in the tree was
> splitting as it dried. Ants found their way into the trunk and some kind
> of canker disease was attacking and winning a battle against the
> wound sealing wood on the right side of the cut.

Ants... interesting. The primary insect disease_vector I encounter is earwigs.

> I cut out the canker and still had ants to deal with. So, rather than
> watch them carve tunnels in a tree I like I gave the wound a bath in
> some insecticide which could also be used on fruit trees. Then I gave
> it a couple more and presto, the ants are gone. Every so often I spray
> it if I have a sprayer out.

What insecticide did you use? I used a weak solution of permethrin for about 5 years to prevent insects from setting up shop in a 3-foot-long sunscald on a sugar maple. That wound is now completely closed.

.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2014 at 12:58AM
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tenacre(Z5 SW MI)

I nursed it for years. Gave it hundreds of gallons of water every week during that incredibly hot dry summer we had several years ago.

It's about 37 feet tall now.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2014 at 1:10AM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

how many trees have died due to pruning wounds .. while you spent years wondering ...???

if none.. then continue the process of doing nothing ...

i dont know about what you do spray ... but if none died.. i would think there is no negative ...

we are always thinking.. wondering about something new.. a new way to do it.. etc ... my default is usually along the lines that ma nature has been at this for millions of years ... and she doesnt really need our help ... just stay out of her way.. and she can do it ...

ken

    Bookmark   August 10, 2014 at 7:20AM
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gardener365(5b Illinois USA)

I wrap wounds, sunscald, etc- anything to do with bark with aluminum foil as it's a great callous generator. Then I tie it on with stretch tape.

If a tree is excessively bleeding sap where it just won't stop, Doc Farwell's Pruning and Seal goop or Doc Farwell's grafting sealant will stop it and save your tree.

Dax

    Bookmark   August 10, 2014 at 8:36AM
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beng(z6 western MD)

Deny the insects cover/shelter -- keep the wound as open and exposed as possible, especially along edges.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2014 at 9:31AM
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tenacre(Z5 SW MI)

>gardener365 IL 5b
>I wrap wounds, sunscald, etc- anything to do with bark with aluminum foil
>as it's a great callous generator.
>Then I tie it on with stretch tape.

Hi Dax, can't tell if the above is tongue-in-cheek, but if I did that here I'd have an
insect invasion under that foil... and soon after that, a fungus farm.

.

This post was edited by tenacre on Sun, Aug 10, 14 at 10:11

    Bookmark   August 10, 2014 at 10:08AM
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gardener365(5b Illinois USA)

30-years should be enough experience to comment about callous generation & protection.

Dax

    Bookmark   August 10, 2014 at 11:28AM
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tenacre(Z5 SW MI)

>gardener365 IL 5b Sun, Aug 10, 14 at 11:28
>30-years should be enough experience
>to comment about callous generation & protection.

Wasn't sure if you were serious or pulling my leg. You have been known to joke on occasion.

I have thousands of trees to experiment on. I'll try it on one I don't care about.
.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2014 at 12:20PM
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whaas_5a(5A SE WI)

Dax, do you have any info on the callous generation with aluminum foil? Why specifically does the aluminum aide in callous generation?

I only found very limited info with bonsai and pecan grafting. In neither circumstance did they outline what it does to aide in the callous generation.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2014 at 1:17PM
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tenacre(Z5 SW MI)

>In neither circumstance did they outline what it does
>to aide in the callous generation.

Just guessing here:

1) Aluminum is impermeable; holds the moisture in; keeps the wound from drying out?

2) Aluminum reflects the sun and keeps the wound cooler?

3) Keeps the wound dark. Plant cells grow faster in the dark? (That's what they told us in grammar school in the 50s as the reason plants grow toward the sun: the dark side grows faster and bends the plant toward the light).

4) Aluminum may have some antifungal properties? (as do Copper, Zinc, and Silver)

.

This post was edited by tenacre on Sun, Aug 10, 14 at 13:37

    Bookmark   August 10, 2014 at 1:33PM
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gardener365(5b Illinois USA)

Really good guesses. The first three are right. I don't know about antifungal properties, however.

You know most people try to treat their greenhouses for example like a surgeon's operating room but plants have the capability to fight off fungus. Wrapping wounds with just a layer or two and tying them off with a bit of stretch tape is all I'm talking about.

As to insects, borers are less-likely to penetrate the wound, and generally-speaking it's the same with other insects. Birds, rabbits, deer, etc- all don't mess with the wound while healing or inflict further damage near the wounded area.

The wounds heal much more quickly with the use of aluminum. That's bottom line.

Dax

    Bookmark   August 10, 2014 at 2:45PM
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whaas_5a(5A SE WI)

Don't you want the wound to dry out? I'm not talking about grafting here. More info please!

    Bookmark   August 10, 2014 at 6:17PM
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gardener365(5b Illinois USA)

I cant tell you anything more.

The Iowa Nut Growers Assc. president has been doing it all his life. It's second nature to him. I've seen the results.

You either try it or you don't.

Dax

    Bookmark   August 11, 2014 at 6:07AM
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brandon7 TN_zone(7)

"Don't you want the wound to dry out?"

No, you don't won't live tissue drying out (i.e. dying). I'm not arguing for the foil method, but just saying that keeping wounds from drying out is important. When trees have large wounds, a temporary slightly-loose wrap with plastic can greatly help speed healing by keeping the wound from drying out (this works if the plastic is applied before the wound can initially dry out and the plastic is removed within a few weeks, depending on various factors).

    Bookmark   August 11, 2014 at 8:37PM
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toronado3800 Zone 6 StLouis(6)

Here is mine. Been open for a couple years

    Bookmark   August 11, 2014 at 9:46PM
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tenacre(Z5 SW MI)

I first noticed a problem in the area between the red arrows about 5 years ago. The bark did not look normal. Then the abnormality began to get larger. Then a small piece of bark came off and I realized the cambium was dying - it was all crumbly brown. I carefully removed the bark over the dead area and cleaned out the crumbly brown cambium until I found healthy tissue. To keep insects out I sprayed occasionally with dilute solution of tea tree oil. That stopped the spreading of the dead area, and the tree began to close the wound. All that's left open is that small hole, about the diameter of the head of a Q-tip. Last week I plugged it with beeswax to keep insects out. The brown patch at the blue arrow showed up about 3 weeks ago. I'm keeping an eye on it; not sure what's going on. Deer? This poor tree has had its share of problems, but it sure is gorgeous in the Fall.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2014 at 12:41AM
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ctnchpr

The blue arrow looks like more dead bark. It's not a very healthy looking tree...

    Bookmark   August 12, 2014 at 1:31AM
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tenacre(Z5 SW MI)

I've seen worse

Here is a link that might be useful: sick tree

    Bookmark   August 12, 2014 at 10:53AM
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tenacre(Z5 SW MI)

It's had some problems, but looks like a fighter...

Here is a link that might be useful: pictures

    Bookmark   August 12, 2014 at 11:17AM
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whaas_5a(5A SE WI)

Brandon I didn't mean for the live tissue to dry out. Typically you should prune during periods of higher humidity.

My concern is sealing it up and have it transpire/trap moisture.

Perhaps we're talking about loosely covering the wound so moisture build up can still drip out.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2014 at 8:15PM
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poaky1

I would figure if there are bugs eating at the wood before it closes that isn't sound wood anyway. It is best that you know it. Unless bugs (like earwigs) eat good wood sometimes? I would plan on loosing any tree, maybe not right away, but eventually, any tree that has lots of earwigs etc. We have a small maple-looking tree. Dax ID's as Sycamore maple. It is short so I am not worried about falling limbs. It has been bug food for at least 5 yrs now.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2014 at 9:53PM
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tenacre(Z5 SW MI)

Unless bugs eat good wood sometimes?

Wood-boring insects that attack healthy trees and shrubs are called âÂÂprimary invaders.â Primary invaders may eventually kill trees.

Here is a link that might be useful: emerald ash borer

This post was edited by tenacre on Tue, Aug 12, 14 at 22:32

    Bookmark   August 12, 2014 at 10:31PM
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brandon7 TN_zone(7)

Poaky, as you suggest, earwigs are not known damage healthy trees or unrotten wood. In my opinion, Tenacre is totally off-base and has made multiple assumptions without justification. At this point, I don't really expect to change Tenacre's mind, but also don't agree with the assumptions about what the problem really is or about how to address it.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2014 at 10:44PM
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tmore(5)

one thing to think about insects. they only go after plants that are in stress. if pruning done right,,it will heal without any intervention from us. after 23 years as a grounds keeper only bad pruning cause problems

    Bookmark   August 12, 2014 at 11:16PM
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tenacre(Z5 SW MI)

@brandon: Earwigs like to congregate in tree wounds. That is an observable fact. Earwigs also carry all manner of pathogens. That can be experimentally verified. You and I can disagree whether or not those pathogens inhibit the tree's efforts to close the wound, but hopefully we could disagree respectfully without resorting to name-calling, OK?

As for whether or not "bugs eat good wood sometimes", the answer is an unqualified "yes". Emerald ash borers and peach borers are prime examples.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2014 at 11:46PM
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toronado3800 Zone 6 StLouis(6)

"one thing to think about insects. they only go after plants that are in stress. if pruning done right,,it will heal without any intervention from us. after 23 years as a grounds keeper only bad pruning cause problems"

I will meet you half way and say bugs have better luck attacking trees which are stressed.

Thank of how it works in people. A bug will have an easier time attacking an eighty year old man and having obvious symptoms show up than in a twenty year old who will just have the sniffles. None the less, the bug attacks them both.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2014 at 12:02AM
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tenacre(Z5 SW MI)

"only bad pruning cause problems"

I wouldn't say "only". It certainly substantially increases the chances of success if the cut is made correctly, but it's no guarantee. Certainly not as often, but even proper cuts can lead to problems.

And pruning was not intended to be the only source of wounding to be discussed in this thread.

deer rubbing

lightning strikes

sunscald

wind damage

woodpecker holes

animal bites

and on and on.

The question I posed in my original post was "is there anything that can be done for a wounded tree to help it recover".

I speculated that keeping insects away from the wounded area might help. I am convinced, based on years of observation and experimentation, that it can help in certain cases. Others may respectfully disagree if they so choose.

Dax has suggested using aluminum foil, and I intend to try that at the next good opportunity, including a control for comparison. I'll take lots of pictures.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2014 at 12:17AM
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brandon7 TN_zone(7)

Tenacre, I haven't seen anyone calling your names or anything close to that. You must have seriously misread something.

Also, you cannot interchange earwigs with emerald ash borers. They are not even in the same biological order. I suggest that your earwig "problem" is unrelated and not comparable to issues related to the emerald ash borers.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2014 at 12:23AM
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tenacre(Z5 SW MI)

Brandon:

Nowhere in this thread did anyone suggest that you can "interchange" interchange earwigs and emerald ash borers. I don't know where you got that idea. I suggest you read more carefully, and respectfully ask for clarification if you do not understand something. There are lots of good people on this forum who will help you.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2014 at 8:11AM
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brandon7 TN_zone(7)

Yes, Tenacre, you very clearly brought up the emerald ash borers after concentrating mostly on earwigs, only five posts up from this one. Maybe you forgot. Anyway, the way in which emerald ash borers cause problems seems mostly unrelated to your thread, except that you chose to throw it in. I guess you figured that if you threw in a real issue, it would give some legitimacy to your issue. It didn't. In fact, in my view, it only draws attention to the insignificance of the imagined earwig problem.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2014 at 8:58PM
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tenacre(Z5 SW MI)

brandon you should probably step back and take a break from this thread and get a hold of yourself. Your behavior is very disruptive and uncharitable, and seems to be escalating.

Emerald ash borers were mentioned in this thread simply as one example to answer a question someone asked: "Do bugs eat good wood sometimes". The answer is clearly "yes".

The topic of this thread was clearly stated in the original post and a recent post. Here it is, a third time:

Is there anything that can be done for a wounded tree to help it recover?

(I put it in bold in hopes that you don't miss it).

Helping a wounded tree may take many different forms. Dax made an interesting (and perhaps somewhat surprising) suggestion about covering with aluminum. Always willing to learn something new, I intend to try that. I speculated that keeping insects away from the wound might help. I mentioned earwigs not because I think they directly damage sound wood (I've seen no definitive research either way), but because they very well may be disease vectors. This was stated very clearly.

Let's keep the discussion civil and friendly, and focused on the "help a wounded tree" question.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2014 at 9:52PM
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brandon7 TN_zone(7)

Tenacre, have you considered examining your own contributions here? I think you really should!

As to treating wounds, try searching for posts about liquid copper fungicide. The topic has been brought up a number of times, and many of the more experienced members here consider it worthy of further evaluation. BTW, Google may be better for this than the search functions on here, because of the age of some of the threads. Many of the older threads are still around, but have dropped off of GardenWeb's search function.

Here is a link that might be useful: Liquid Copper Fungicide

    Bookmark   August 13, 2014 at 10:15PM
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tenacre(Z5 SW MI)

> ctnchpr Tue, Aug 12, 14 at 1:31
> It's not a very healthy looking tree...

Just has some wounds. I wish I had known 5 years ago about spruceman's experience using copper soap.

I used an aqueous solution of tea tree oil (spray) in my assiduous battle to discourage insects and inhibit fungus and microbes. The copper sounds like a much more effective solution.

Here is a link that might be useful:

This post was edited by tenacre on Thu, Aug 14, 14 at 22:09

    Bookmark   August 14, 2014 at 9:06PM
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tenacre(Z5 SW MI)

> brandon7 7 TN Wed, Aug 13, 14 at 22:15
> Tenacre, have you considered examining your own contributions here?
> I think you really should!

Yes I have! And I am so glad I kept answering your questions until you understood. This inspired you to find and link those threads about copper-based fungicide, which I'm sure will be of interest to others besides myself. Thank you.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2014 at 10:43PM
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ctnchpr

@tenacre

I'm glad you try to nurse your sick trees back to health. My 20 acre woodlot is only for firewood production, so a tree like yours would be cut before rot consumed the heartwood.

I read long ago that a properly maintained woodlot could provide a cord of firewood per acre/per year. The dead and unhealthy are cut first. I've been cutting firewood from my lot every year since 1978, and you can't tell it. I have all sizes, from saplings to monsters.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2014 at 12:33AM
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tenacre(Z5 SW MI)

Off topic, but is the firewood for your own home, or to sell (or perhaps both)? What are the top 3 tree species in your woodlot?

    Bookmark   August 15, 2014 at 10:57PM
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poaky1

I have seen 2 seemingly healthy trees fall victim to borers. One a Sycamore about 6 inches in caliper, it was planted as a whip. It had a v shape I got rid of one side of the V, hoping for a 1 leader tree. The borers attacked the pruning site where I got rid of the other side of the V. The other was my mom's large Tulip tree (liriodendron tulipfera) Missplelled I know. It was 3 ft diameter at least. Borers attacked the lower trunk, where I would bet if I had money, my dad ran into it with the tractor. This happened before I was the primary grass cutter of the family, so i am off the hook. So both of these things in my yard, I can guess there was injury or at least stress involved. But with the Dutch Elm thing, that happened to many likely not injured or stressed trees. I just think or darn well hope that there must be the situation where most trees aren't dying when there is no previous problem. But not to get into a whole "messy thing" but healthy people can get Ebola if exposed. This is a tool to get my point across ONLY. I know nothing specific about that whole mess. But, I had figured that the bugs were natures cleanup crew, and good wood would not fall prey to disease and/or insects unless there was/is an underlying problem that is just how nature is. There are some surviving Dutch Elms (or Elms) in the UK according to a book I have. The disease never reached those few trees.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2014 at 11:31PM
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tenacre(Z5 SW MI)

> Posted by poaky1 6 Pa (My Page) on Fri, Aug 15, 14 at 23:31
> I have seen 2 seemingly healthy trees fall victim to borers.

I watched a once robustly healthy and injury-free black cherry (no injuries, no pruning cuts) fall victim to peach borers. This happened before I learned about peach borers (hat tip to Dax). Had I known at that time what was happening to the tree, it's likely it could have been saved with some simple intervention. See link below

Here is a link that might be useful: peach borers attack and kill black cherry tree

    Bookmark   August 15, 2014 at 11:51PM
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ctnchpr

@tenacre

A little off topic, but it's your thread.

I only cut wood for myself, it's too much work to cut and sell. I've never owned a woodsplitter, almost 4 decades of splitting by hand.

Top 3 on the hills: Red oak, White oak, and Shagbark hickory.

Top 3 in the creek bottom: Swamp chestnut oak, Beech, and Sweetgum. Sweetgum is the least useful of the 6.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2014 at 12:43AM
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tenacre(Z5 SW MI)

Posted by ctnchpr Sat, Aug 16, 14 at 0:43

A little off topic, but it's your thread.

I only cut wood for myself

Since the dialog has slowed to a crawl on the original topic, I don't think anyone will mind a brief digression.

Couple of questions:

1) Do you have an outdoor or indoor burner?

2) Do you heat with wood exclusively?

3) Have you ever burned Osage Orange?

I have a "young woods" and an "old woods".

The "young woods" was farmland 13 years ago. Now the trees there, all planted by mother nature, are mostly black cherry, mulberry, white oak, shagbark hickory, and apple. Some are over 40 feet tall. There's also some sassafras, a couple of Juneberry, and one elm (which just barely escaped the mower many years ago when I was clearing trails through the brush, and is doing quite well so far).

I'm not sure how old the "old woods" is. There are some pretty large trees back there. Black cherry, black walnut, linden, white ash (no borers, yet!), and an old fence row of Osage Orange.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2014 at 1:06AM
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ctnchpr

1. Indoor, 1/4 " steel, firebrick lined.

2. We have an electric heatpump, but use it only when a quick warm-up is needed, as when we've been away for a few hours.

3. Osage orange is rare around here, you can find them occasionally on old fencerows. If I could find some, I certainly wouldn't burn it. It's a very beautiful wood for woodworking.

My lot is all old woods. One of my neighbors, who is in his mid 70's, said it was last worked in the mid 1950's. He was a teenager then and helped wrangle the draft animals.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2014 at 1:29AM
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tenacre(Z5 SW MI)

Osage orange is rare around here, you can find them occasionally on old fencerows. If I could find some, I certainly wouldn't burn it. It's a very beautiful wood for woodworking.

It's one of my favorite trees. It has lush bright green foliage and seems immune to insects, fungus, viruses, and bacteria. Even the animals leave it alone.

For years I collected "hedge apples" from one of the larger female trees along the fence row, brought them back up the edge of the back yard, and heaved them up into the air and let them crash land in an unmowed area. A few finally germinated and now I have four of them, about 15 feet tall and quite wide, I can see from the kitchen window.

I've read that Osage Orange is generally considered to be the best firewood growing in North America. But like you I'd never cut them down for that.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2014 at 1:48AM
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