Trunk chops: drastic vs incremental

I’ve found a few helpful discussions in the Q&As, but nothing that addressed this question directly, so I thought I’d ask it here. I’m not asking about a particular tree, but rather just trying to better understand the framework for decision making in general.

If you’re growing a tree to thicken the trunk and plan to chop to induce taper, what gets you there faster: letting the tree grow continuously and making one drastic chop? Or chopping periodically to refocus stored resources into new growth from the chop site? If the latter isn’t faster, it seems like it still might create for smaller, faster healing scars and better general taper. Is that true?

I appreciate any guidance and considerations to add to my decision framework. Thanks


Hi @waffahouse,
Welcome to the forum.
To answer your question I think we need to know what species the tree in question is?
Also, what are you trying to achieve?
If you just want a big tree quickly, then field growing is the way to go, but to get a good end product, you need to manage the tree as it developed.
The Asymmetry podcast with Telperian is a good listen.

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Chopping periodically will definitely build better taper if you chop further up the trunk each time. In addition to the new leader being smaller, it can stimulate buds and branches below the chop that will help thicken the portions below them. I prefer multiple chops along with periodic root pruning (even in a grow bag) to get more taper and a better nebari. it can also be used to develop strong movement in the trunk line.

Fastest thickening will be without any chops in the open ground, but that leads to little or no taper and a poor nebari. Putting it in a grow bag will help with the nebari, but slow the growth a little.