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Take steps now to minimize problems with storm-damaged shade trees, timber stands

Media contact: Dr. Robert Bardon, 919-515-5575 or

If you have a storm-damaged shade tree or timber stand, there are steps you can take now to minimize problems.

According to North Carolina Cooperative Extension, hanging branches are particularly hazardous in a home landscape because a mild disturbance could cause them to fall. Fallen trees and broken or partially attached tree branches should be removed by a bonded or insured professional. If you’re inexperienced and try to tackle this chore yourself, you can put yourself and your property at risk, and you can seriously damage your trees.

For moderate pruning jobs close to ground level, use sharp tools to cut back to a lateral side branch or bud, or back to live, healthy wood. Make the cut at a slant next to a bud that can produce new growth. Don’t cut the branch flush with the trunk. Instead, cut outside the collar at the base of the branch.

In the past, some people recommended that tree wound dressings be applied to all cuts to prevent decay-causing infection. However, research has shown that wound dressings don’t prevent decay and, in some cases, can serve as food sources for microorganisms.

For woodland owners with felled trees, rapid harvest and removal can prevent damage by fungi and insects.

Salvage harvest of damaged timber can be dangerous and expensive. Also, because many timber owners may be trying to market their damaged timber before it spoils, you may have a hard time finding a harvesting firm available to handle your job. In that case, focus on salvaging timber that is the easiest to cut — for instance, stands blown or felled in one direction — and timber that is the most perishable, has the highest potential product value and is the most valuable.

Sawtimber trees with broken tops may be unusable for lumber because of wood splintering and internal tearing. Salvage of usable sawlogs from broken trees depends on the height of the standing stumps. To keep down logging costs in storm-damaged stands of mixed sawtimber and pulpwood, all salvageable sawtimber and pulpwood should be removed during the same operation.

For more information, contact your county center of North Carolina Cooperative Extension, or visit the Web site: . Tree- and timber-specific recovery information is available at

— Dee Shore, 919-513-3117, 919-604-3164 or