When to do trunk chops? Elm, Tridents, and Gingko

I was fortunate enough to get some good material last week. All of them are way too tall and need to have the height reduced.

The elm needs about 6 inches or 1/4 of its height gone. I also want to pare back some of the scars anf get new cut paste on it.
The trident group needs more than half of it cut off. It’s 3 to 4 feet tall; I’d like 12-18 inches. They were 6+ feet tall and we had to cut them to fit in the car. They had also escape rooted, so lost a lot of roots in being transported.
Gingko is 2 feet tall, twin trunked. I think about half the height should go.
When should I chop these? What cues am I looking for?

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As long as you are leaving significant foliage below the chop you can do it about any time they are growing. During the growing season it will result in new growth so it is a good idea to allow time for the new growth to harden off. I seem to recall you are in SE Washington so you have a couple of more months of decent weather and can probably do it now, but not much later. Leave a stub and plan to trim back after any die back occurs.

If you wait leaf drop in the fall, make sure to cut back long to allow for winter die back. The traditional time for major trunk chops is in late spring after the new growth has hardened off and the tree is energy positive. Early spring before growth will also work for the elm and gingko, but not the maple since it is prone to excessive sap bleeding.

The other thing you might consider is to airlayer the top of the elm to get another tree. Elms tend to root faily well and is thick enough. The trident maples are also candidates. However, any airlayers will need protection from freezing since they will probably not develop too many roots until next spring.


Thanks, Marty. I’ll go ahead and cut the gingko and some of the maples this week, I think, and try to air layer the elm in spring. Having so many maples means I can be a little experimental, doing some now and some in spring.

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