Wound closure after pruning - this is how you seal the cut surface

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Cut apple tree

At wound closure on trees after the pruning, the ghosts divide. For the advocates of a sealing of the cut surfaces, it is an indispensable measure. The other side vehemently proclaims the fairy tale of wound closure. This causes insecurity among home gardeners, which this guide removes. Read here why it makes sense to rely on the self-healing powers of a tree and refrain from a seal. Nevertheless, it is advantageous under special conditions for the healing process to treat a cut professionally. That's how you do it right.

Fallacy wound seal

Modern knowledge in the field of biotechnology has uncovered wound closure after pruning as a fallacy. For many decades, gardeners sealed cuts wound airtight with wax, Baumteer, emulsion paints and similar agents. In the best faith to support their tree in the healing of his wounds and to protect against fungal attack, hobby gardeners caused the opposite. Why numerous trees in the subsequent period, however, stopped their growth, diseased and even died away, remained a mystery for a long time.
Only in the mid-1980s brought the research results of the American forestry scientist Alex Shigo light in the dark. The 'Father of Modern Tree Care' dissected more than 15,000 trees with the saw to investigate the reaction in the wood to this wound. He found that wound healing in a tree is completely different than in humans and animals. On a skin injury, for example on the fingertip comes a patch. Within a short time, the old, injured cells are replaced by new, identical cells, leaving the fingerprint unchanged for life. Trees lack this ability of identical reproduction of injured tissue. They are following a different strategy, which is hampered by plaster in the form of wound closure.
The quintessence of 26 years of intensive research is: Wound closure does not prevent rot and disease, but does the opposite. With this realization, he shook the foundations of traditional tree surgery and triggered a rethinking among commercial and private arborists.

Self-healing power topazes wound closure

In order to understand Alex Shigo's findings and implement them in his own garden, a short excursion into tree biology is helpful. The following overview shows in simplified form the sequence in the wood after the pruning:
  • Injured tissue in the wood does not heal, as in human skin
  • Instead, the wound is covered with a callus layer from the edge
  • The injured wood is encapsulated and decomposes
  • Fresh, active wood (cambium) forms above a partition line to the rotting wound wood
After a pruning, a race thus takes place between the growth of young cambium and the decomposition of the injured tissue. The quicker and more unhindered the overflow of a cut, the less damage is done by the dying wood.
It is obvious that a wound closure agent significantly affects this process. Fresh cambium encounters a chemical barrier and can not swiftly disperse the degrading tissue. In the race against putrefaction, the natural self-healing powers fall behind, so that in the worst case the entire branch or trunk is helplessly exposed to decay.

Apple - tree pruning

To make matters worse, that a sealing of the cut surface germs and fungal spores in the hands plays. The alternation of sun, rain, heat and cold causes cracks within the seal that use pathogenic bacteria as a welcome portal of entry. In combination with existing microorganisms, in the pleasant microclimate under the protective film, the decomposition progresses merrily, while the healing overflow is hampered by fresh cambium.
Tip: A look at a wood cross-section a few years after a wound makes it clear that a tree is giving up damaged tissue and simply blasting it with fresh wood to continue its growth. Even without a cross-section, this process can be visually understood by means of bulges in the trunk.

When are wound closure agents useful?

It is still not recommended to banish wound closure agents rigorously out of the garden. Under special conditions, the sealing of cut surfaces can be useful and advantageous. In the following 2 exceptional cases, help your tree with a treatment for cuts:

winter pruning

For a variety of tree species in winter is the best time for a form and maintenance section. Since woody plants are in their safe waters between November and February, no cambium can form to cover cuts. So that this cell division layer on the outer edge of the wound does not freeze or dry up until the beginning of the vegetation period, a wound closure agent is applied at this point.How to do it right:
  • Smooth the wound edge with a sharp knife
  • Seal the edge with a wound closure
  • Do not completely coat the cut surface
The valuable cambium can be recognized as the first layer under the bark. Only this outer ring is sealed in winter so that the self-healing process can begin unhindered in spring.

Flaked bark

If superficial wounds occur because the bark has chipped or been damaged as a result of game attack, a larger cambium layer is exposed unprotected. This special case is also a field of application for wound closure agents. Now the danger does not come from fungi, mold or pests. Rather, threaten larger areas without bark to dry up. Apply the seal on the free wooden surface until a fresh bark has formed over it.
Tip: Damage due to bark detachment can alternatively be covered with black foil until a new bark has formed from the cambium residues. Repeated brushing with clay also prevents dehydration during the formation of new bark.Since the traditional tree surgery has been reoriented towards a biologically based tree care after Alex Shigo, the supply of wound closure agents in the market steadily decreases. What is left are ecologically sensible preparations that support the healing process after a winter cut or rind detachment. The following products have been found to be recommended:

Wax-resin combination of shaft

The product is based on resins that are naturally secreted by trees after injury. These resins destroy bacteria and fungal spores and promote scarring. The tree wax is available in different consistencies. As a paste, it can easily spread to wound edges, as a liquid agent, it flows into larger bark cracks or facilitates the treatment of hard-to-reach tree wounds as a spray.

Lauril tree wax from Neudorff

The product has been specially developed for the treatment of interfaces in the processing of fruit and ornamental trees. The composition of natural resin and wax recommends the means at the same time as a wound closure after pruning or a clearing of sensitive woody plants. Lauril Baumwachs is enriched with fungicides, so that appropriate safety precautions must be observed when using them.

Lac balm from Compo

Cut apple tree

The innovative wound closure from Compo scores with several advantages. Unlike many other sealants, Lac Balsam is breathable. The preparation is easy to apply as it does not drip, dries quickly and covers reliably. From an optical point of view, it proves to be an advantage that the paste is bark-colored, so that the treatment can only be recognized on closer inspection. With the aid of the practical brush tube, the balm is spread 2 cm beyond the edge of the wound after the surface has been smoothed with a knife.
Tip: Do not use wound closure in rain, frost or extreme heat. The ideal temperature range for maximum effectiveness extends from 5 to 30 degrees Celsius.

Cut management is more important than wound closure

Instead of trafficking a tree after cutting with counterproductive wound closure agents, a professional incision provides valuable assistance in the healing process. Two rules of thumb summarize what matters:
  • When cutting only hurt the tissue that belongs to the cut branch
  • The smaller the cut, the more effective the encapsulation and healing

What does that mean specifically for the cutting guide?

Most branch branches end in a clear bulge, the so-called astring or Astkragen. This collar is created because the fabric encloses both the thicker and the lower branch. Now cut off the thinner twig, under no circumstances should the astring be affected. Therefore, tree experts speak of a 'cut on Astring', in which the scissors are set at a short distance to the bead.
At the interface, a knothole is created, because there the tissue of the cut branch decomposes. Here the cambium fulfills its task and overcomes the wound, which leads to the typical tree cave. Due to the correct cut, only the tissue associated with the removed branch is decomposed. All other parts of the tree remain unmolested by this process.
Cuts larger than 5 cm in diameter will be covered only slowly or not at all. It therefore makes sense to cut a tree regularly and moderately, rather than rarely and radically. This prevents large wound areas that weaken the stability of the entire tree due to their formation of rot, regardless of whether wound closure agents have been applied or not.
This guidebook shows why wound closure agents have become obsolete after a tree incision. Extensive research results prove that the sealing of cut surfaces significantly disturbs the self-healing powers of woody plants. At the same time tree wax and Co. make no contribution to the protection against rot, fungi and bacteria.On the contrary, pathogenic germs feel well under the seal. Exclusion from the exclusion of wound closure applies to a midwinter cut as well as bark detachment. In all other cases, a professional cut contributes significantly to the fact that the wounded tree activates its self-healing powers and the wound can swiftly overflow.

Video Board: How a wound heals itself - Sarthak Sinha.

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