|Here are two of the trees, one year after topping.|
1. Topping stresses trees. Topping removes a good portion of the leaf-bearing crown and therefore the tree can no longer produce food. In starvation mode the tree produces weak, rapid growth which is dangerous. Trees that do not have stored energy may be in such a weakened state that they die. Large, open wounds expose the tree's heartwood to insect attacks and a stressed tree is much more vulnerable to these attacks and disease.
2. Topping causes decay. Proper pruning cuts are made just beyond the branch collar. A tree is biologically equipped to close a wound (pruning cut) at this point. When you cut a tree indiscriminately it can not close the wound and will begin to decay.
3. Topping can lead to sunscald. Now that the crown and leaves have been removed from the tree it can no longer shade its trunk from our intense sun. This causes sunscald and the rupturing of the bark.
4. Topping creates hazards. New shoots grow quickly and are not anchored to the tree by a normal branch collar and socket. Because this growth is weak these shoots are prone to breaking IN THE WIND and we know wind. If the overall goal of topping a tree was to reduce its height or make it safer the exact opposite will be achieved.
5. It is really, really ugly. Trees should have a natural, branching form. A topped tree can never fully recover that natural form.
6. It is expensive. Aside from the original cost that the perpetrator is paid, there is storm damage clean-up and tree removal once it has died or becomes too dangerous.
There are ways to reduce the height of a tree without topping. Any GOOD arborist should know how to "drop crotch" a tree. If you are thinking of getting your trees pruned and the contractor suggests topping, send him out the door. Please tell anyone you know not to top trees and express your disapproval to those who practice this mutilation. We can make Grant County a more beautiful place to live if we can stop the butchery of our trees.