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Advantage to girdling trees?

Post in 'The Wood Shed' started by SuburbanFarmer, Mar 10, 2009.

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  1. SuburbanFarmer

    SuburbanFarmer Member

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    I'm a new wood burner playing 'catch up'. I've burned most of the prime dead standing trees and need to start on some standing red oak. Is there an advantage to girdle the trees before the sap starts running in a couple weeks? I can't cut and split all that I want that fast without making a mess, but by making a cut about the chain saw depth around the tree it should stop the sap, and eliminate leaf growth. Even better to do it to 'next year's' right? Anyone have experience with this?

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  2. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    I've never seen much advantage in girdling a tree. If you are going to do that, you might better just fell the tree now. If you do not plan on cutting the tree up right away, try laying a few logs crossways and fell the tree on the logs to keep the tree off the ground. That will also help when you are cutting it into firewood size logs.

    If you can't fell the tree on some cross ways logs, then after felling the tree, cut the tree into a few 10' or so lengths and then roll those onto some small logs. The top will stay off the ground except for a few contact points.
  3. Jags

    Jags Moderate Moderator Staff Member

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    I agree with Backwoods...I don't see the advantage. If your gonna haul the saw out, then drop it. I don't like the idea of "making" a dead tree. That just increases the chance of dead branches falling on your head. OUCH!

    If you are gonna get to it this year, rot should not be a big problem. Now get to cuttin'.
  4. FWWARDEN

    FWWARDEN Member

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    I agree with the above posts. If you're going to take the time to break out the saw, just cut the tree down. Snow will be gone in a few weeks and you can buck it up then.
  5. SuburbanFarmer

    SuburbanFarmer Member

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    Thanks for the input and 'motivation' to 'get cutting'! ;-) The issue is dropping the next one before clearing up the first. (Tromping throught the snow and / or muck...) That's why I'm thinking of at least picking the ones I want to harvest, and at least stopping the sap from runnnig, and preventing leaf growth. The ground was mostly bare, but very wet this weekend, but now has 6" of snow... Just working on the 3-6" diameter birches was enough work - I cut it into stove length and haul it out as the ground is too wet to drag big pieces... If I want 3-4 cords for next winter, and 3-4 more to age for the next, that's alot of trees to cut before the leaves pop out. (Maybe real axe men don't mind bucking trees with leaves?) ;-)
  6. Jags

    Jags Moderate Moderator Staff Member

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    The 2 year out stuff won't care if its got leaves or not.
  7. Jack Straw

    Jack Straw Minister of Fire

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    Some people claim it is better to cut the tree down after the leaves are on it and they will pull the moisture up and out of the tree.
    Is this fact or fiction?
  8. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa Minister of Fire

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    If the leaves are already out, the sudden change in moisture supply will cause then to shed too fast to be of any real benefit. You might get more benefit dropping the tree now and leaving the branches on as the tree will most likely bud out come Spring and the buds will draw some of the moisture out.
  9. Apprentice_GM

    Apprentice_GM Member

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    If the tree has leaves (and sap) then cutting it down - during the warmer seasons - and letting the sun & warm air/wind draw that moisture out (known as withering) can draw up to 10% in 2 weeks. That's quite a benefit to me (I'm in Oz, our winters are mild, no snow, few deciduous trees, mostly evergreen hardwoods) but one I rarely utilise as once dropped it usually needs to be limbed, bucked and moved quickly for cleanup reasons.

    However, that is different to deciding to cut it down whilst in leaf and with sap, as opposed to in winter. I would think winter cutting would be more of a benefit. There's more to mositure in a tree than sap but seems like a great head start to have the tree drain the sap for you before you cut.
  10. Adios Pantalones

    Adios Pantalones Minister of Fire

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    I agree with AppGM
  11. Adios Pantalones

    Adios Pantalones Minister of Fire

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    Another advantage- girdling makes the tree look slimmer.
  12. Duetech

    Duetech Minister of Fire

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    Fell the tree and leave the branches intact. When the tree buds out it will draw moisture from the trunk. As soon as the leaves start to wilt they actually seal off any way for the moisture to get out so limb and cut and split the wood. But cut down the tree now to prevent as much sap from getting into the trunk system as possible or the drying will take a lot longer.
  13. DaveBP

    DaveBP Minister of Fire

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    I have found that wood dropped, limbed, bucked, split, stacked, and capped today will dry faster than any I am going to do at some later time.

    That is true for me at any time of year. If you don't burn it for at least two years, none of the tricks make any difference.

    I try to avoid working with mosquitoes and slippery footing.
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