Georgia Pecans: Righting Leaning Trees vs. Removal – Which Is the Right Option?

Damaged, leaning pecan trees following high storm winds. Photo: Andrew Sawyer, University of Georgia

One of the most difficult assessments following damage from wind is whether or not to keep leaning trees. There are a few different rules that Dr. Wells mentions in the Southeastern Pecan Handbook. In Wilcox, we have downed trees representing many ages of pecans. This is a 7-year-old orchard of Pawnee, Sumner, Elliot and a few other cultivars hit hard. Generally, these are your downed trees. At this age, they don’t have an established root system. This orchard had over 1K trees down which came out to 37%. This was a terrible loss.

We looked at it to see if there were some trees we would stand back up, or right. Sometimes trees don’t completely uproot and are left leaning. Should these trees be left standing or not? It’s not always an easy answer, but here are somethings to think about:

First, we do not consider righting a tree with a larger than 15″ trunk diameter. These are best to just remove. When we talk about ‘righting’, we are mainly talking about trees in the 7 -10 or 15 year range. Finding a reliable contractor to perform tree trimming services can be quite a challenge. Worse still, careless or unprofessional tree service companies can leave your landscape looking terrible! At Tree Company approach each job with dedication and commitment.

Keep in mind that leaning trees often have root damage even if roots are not pulled out of the ground. It’s really hard to know and predict the future performance of based on lean angle. They looked at trees after hurricane Frediric in 1979 and see that trees > 45 degree angle remained productive for 25+ years without righting. But many small trees with less lean angle died after a few years. A pecan tree with a 20 degree lean and no roots showing from the surface of the ground STILL can and likely have root damage. We provide a variety of residential tree services homeowners and business owners in the area who need care and maintenance for their property. Our arborists are experienced, fully licensed and insured to handle all your needs. Did you recently purchase a residential or commercial lot with a lot of trees? If you need to make room for parking spaces, a sidewalk, and – the most important piece of your real estate – a building or house, then TreeBien is at your service! We specialize in tree removal and lot clearing for residential and commercial lots in the Charlotte area and would be glad to provide you with a free estimate in person! When searching for certified arborists, be sure to look for those who specialize in spikeless tree pruning. Using spikes can result in a lot of damage to your trees. Our tree trimming service Charlotte NC experts are fully aware of how to care for your landscape so as to enhance the aesthetic quality of your property and ensure your trees live a long life. Pruning can improve the look of your lawn and allow for more sunlight to shine on your lot. It’s important to trim and prune your trees regularly, especially considering that a home is a lifelong investment. Contact us today for a free estimate. We proudly service all of Charlotte and surrounding areas, so please don’t hesitate to give us a call! Don’t let summer and winter storms get you down! We all know how crazy and unpredictable the weather can be in the Carolinas. That’s why emergency Tampa tree service experts are always on hand to take care of your maintenance needs. Whether limbs have fallen on your roof or you’re the victim of a power outage due to a branches falling on power lines after an ice storm, we can help! Contact us for a free estimate on emergency tree removal. Dead and dying wood is the perfect environment for pesky insects as well as a haven for disease which can end up causing long-term damage to your property. It also breaks and falls easily, which can result in damage during stormy seasons. For these reasons, it’s important to inspect your home or commercial lot regularly for dead and dying tree limbs. Our deadwooding experts can help. Our team is licensed, insured and certified and will assess your property for dead or dying wood. If necessary, we’ll remove any trees that pose a threat, while being careful to maintain the integrity of your property by helping necessary trees to thrive with regular pruning and maintenance. Let us improve your landscape! Call us today for a free quote on dead tree removal and other services.

Here are a few ‘Rules of Thumb’

  • Righting trees tends to work better for smaller trees (trunk < 10 inch diamameter) and done during dormancy.
  • Trees of any age or size leaning at <20 degrees often require NO righting. These trees usually grow new roots and can right themselves. If anything, prune the canopy back to balance the root damage.
  • Mature trees leaning at >45 degrees usually better to remove. There are more exceptions to the rule here as younger trees can be righted and perform well.
  • The greatest uncertainty is trees within the 20 – 45 degree angle.

This was the most common scenario we looked at. Should we try standing up this 45 degree angle lean? So many growers have tried this and it seems like even with 45 degree leans, the trees probably sustain enough root damage that a newly planted pecan tree can start growing and producing faster than this thing can recover. This one is coming down.

Another thing to look for is roots pulled up. When you can see the soil line and roots, there is probably strong root damage.

What about broken trunk/limbs?

This is something I haven’t seen in pecans. You can see what looked like straight line winds through this orchard, where trees were down in a line. Rediculous. On the outside was a few trees that were split in the trunk. This is likely not going to turn out good. Dr. Wells discussed one of the options being to cut it back and let it restart growing. This is hard to do because you have to manage those dominant branches and try to keep them from breaking.




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