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<Tom Dunlap>
posted
In June of 1998 the southern suburbs of Minneapolis suffered from a windstorm that also packed large, intense hail. Many trees were ripped out of the ground, the usual storm damage. The hail damage came just as the trees were setting leaves. Most of the leaves had just finished forming but had not started to harden off. The cambium was soft on the trees. Because of the intensity of the hail, many trees were defoliated. This year I have been doing some work in the area and have found taht some trees had severe die back in the tips. This has challnged my climbers and myself to develop the skills to work the ends of silver maples especially. Not much fun doing tip work and having to climb out to the ends of limbs that are tapering to two and three inches. This last weeek we have been pruning at an apartment complex that has many ten and twelve inch Green Ash, blech!...Besides the usual twiggy deadwood in the centers there are tips that did not leaf out this year. The trees look better once we are done but there is not alot left on some of them.

AS we looked at the hail damage we find that the pock marks from the hail run together and the decay sometimes is about two thirds of the branch cross section. Observing this, and thirty years of looking at trees, tells me that many of these limbs will be snapping off in the next few years. The only hope is that the trees are able to put on many layers of new tissue and encase the wounds. If not. I have seen limbs snap and have dissected the break and usually found a wound that was the trigger for the break.

One of my climbers also mentioned that an ice storm or heavy, wet snow could trigger a failure.

What experience do others have with severe hail damage. I don't have any hope of preventing the failures really. There are too many trees and I don't feel comfortable doing crown reduction pruning on trees because the "might" break. I am going to die but I'm trying to lead a healthy life to prolong my time here on this piece of rock and water.

We took some of the pruned limbs and broke them in our hands to see where they snapped. After a few breaks we were getting a theme going. This lead us to the conclusion that we still will have job security!

Tom
 
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<Peter Torres>
posted
Reply to post by Tom Dunlap, on September 03, 1999 at 23:19:38:

We are talking about silver maple and green ash here. Thay are species that sprout easily, and also die back easily. Do not risk anyone's safety making cuts out where you are unprotected. Make 6 inch cuts. These trees have the genetics to handle a 6 inch heading cut. It is a better alternative than risking a worker. Also, better to let the ends die and break and fall on a potential victim than to risk a climber's presence, because, I have discovered, that arborists are people too.
 
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<Scott>
posted
Reply to post by Peter Torres, on September 03, 1999 at 23:19:38:

I trust Peter's observations about these specific species and definitely about climber safety. In general my reaction would be that minor tip die back does not warrant thorough pruning since those small tips will just fall off. And as a business person you need to keep a reasonable relationship between what's accomplished and what you get paid to do it. Are you getting paid for the extra time to get all those little tips or absorbing it? Do your client's really want to pay for it? Is there a real payback if they do? I guess it goes back to A300 and the objectives of the pruning.
 
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<Scott Cullen>
posted
Reply to post by Tom Dunlap, on September 03, 1999 at 23:19:38:

It would be interesting to research whether tree loss resulting from hailstorm damage would qualify as a casualty, i.e. "sudden, unexpected and unusual" under IRS loss rules if the need for removal took some time to become apparent or clearly unavoidable. The rules typically exclude losses from gradual or progressive deterioration, but I beleive the case which might be interesting is loss of oak trees from decline resulting in the final analysis from two-lined chesnut borer over some period of time but triggered in the first instance by an unusual defoliation by gypsy moth larvae.

Of course the loss would need to meet all deductibility rules for the individual taxpayer as well.

But, good documentation about the event and the particular, immediate damage -- as Tom has collected -- would be key if the case had to be made x years down the road.
 
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<Tom Dunlap>
posted
Reply to post by Peter Torres, on September 03, 1999 at 23:19:38:

I will NEVER have someone do something that I am not willing and capable of doing! I guess that I did not make it clear that we are not tied inot the small limbs, our tie ins are always secure in sound limbs. By pushing our skills we become better climbers. It took me until I was forty to learn how valuable double and triple crotching was in getting out to the tips of limbs. The man I learned this from was close forty five at the time and to this day, is the best pruner that I know. He taught me the value of doing work in the tips of the limbs and also to leave the Devil's Hook (pole saw) on the ground. If a climber can make a cut with the pole saw the limb can be climbed. Using ten and twelve foot pole pruners does a lot to make sure taht there are no Pig's Ear cuts made. After all, aren't we tree CLIMBERS?

How can you justify 6" cuts??? That would mean that the limbs would need to be 18" diameter. In my book, that is a splinter away from topping.

Yes, I get paid to take the time to do this type of pruning. Not all of the work is this thorough but if I get paid, I will do a White Glove job. A while ago, I learned taht the less brush that I put on the ground, the more money I make. You must factor in machinery overhead, cleanup and disposal of debris. When we are doing tip work in trees ther is not a lot of brush to rake up and chip. Therefor, one ground crew can keep up with more climbers. Most of the time, the ground is cleaned up except for the final, fine raking when the climber hits dirt.

There is no way that I would ever tell a client "better to let the ends die and break and fall on a potential victim than to risk ..." what kind of liability am I leaving myself open to there. I will always leave a solution, it might be expensive though. There are many very unique ways to get to the tips of trees, scaffolding, working off of a crane basket, traveling false crotches set up on overhead ropes, etc. These methods won't be found written out in trade publications or in training videos.

Tom
 
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<Scott>
posted
Reply to post by Tom Dunlap, on September 04, 1999 at 01:02:23:

Tom,

I agree with most of what you've said. There is a safe way to do most anything and those challenges keep us on our toes. If a client is willing to pay for tip pruning down to 1/2" cuts, why not.

Assuming they don't however, I can't see much wrong with leaving those small dead tips to self prune, if we know they result from the physical damage of hail.

The pole saw issue, I think, is really a question of tree size. I can speak from lots of personal climbing experience and running crews, you can get a lot more done in a day a lot more safely and properly using a pole saw. I'm not talking about a minor time saving but maybe doing it in a half or third the time compared to climbing to everything. I don't see anything wrong with using the pole saw to get everything you can reach from a particular spot, rather than climbing out on two or three additional limbs. Sometime you can get a better cut with a pole saw -- from the side, from above, or from below -- than getting right out there and reaching around or under the limb. I also learned double and triple crotching from men in their fifties and still climbing. I learned it early on. And they taught me to use a pole saw effectively too. (Just to be clear, I'm also talking about the 1", 2" and 3" dead stuff out in the crown that's too big to cut with a pruner but awkward to get to in 60-80-100' trees with proportionate canopy spreads).

I'd be interested to hear what others feel about pole saws.

I think I agree about the brush on the ground and profitability if we are talking about putting extra brush on the ground to avoid making smaller cuts. But if we are dead wood pruning, don't we have to take out all the dead wood called for in the pruning spec. (>2" or whatever)? I certainly agree you shouldn't be taking out a 6" limb (or a 4" or a 2" limb) because you don't want to go out there to get the 3 or 4 dead laterals on it, unless thinning or weak limb removal is also specced. And if it is you need to get it on the ground. And the way I was trained, that's wher the pole saw comes in... you get what you're supposed to in the most efficient manner.
 
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<Peter Torres>
posted
Reply to post by Scott, on September 04, 1999 at 11:31:49:

I am a big believer in polesaw work. Excellent climbing aid, too. When I got to the west coast the guys thought it was kind of sissy, and I was happy to confess to that.
 
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<Peter Torres>
posted
Reply to post by Tom Dunlap, on September 04, 1999 at 01:02:23:

Sorry Tom, didn't mean any offense or criticism. A 6 inch cutdoesn't always matter to me on a fast growing tree. And you may have noticed that I am not dogmatically opposed to topping trees, anyway. Just carrying on the conversation. Peter
 
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