Repairing partial splits, possible?

I am wondering if it is reasonable to attempt to repair and salvage scafolds that have torn and split part way, but are still well attached.
I know it can be done in spring if the split is fresh and imeideitly closed, wrapped and supported for a season, especialy on really small stuff. I have accomplished it when trying to spread a branch too far…

But this spring I am faced with several significant scafolds that were damaged in a December snow event. These are branches around 1.5-2" on younger trees. Crotch angles were good they just got loaded up and began to tear into the tree.
I hate to lose the scaffolds, but it also seems pruning them out will leave pretty substantial wounds along the trunks. Many of them are splitting into the heart and down several inches at point of attachment.
I am contemplating propping and tying these back into a closed position (most are nearly closed on ire own once the snow wieght released). Driving a large pan head stainless screw through the joint for support and hoping with 2-4 years growth things new wood heals over and ties it together.

I don’t see any reason you can’t salvage the limbs assuming your willing to brace and pamper for a couple of years. My first attempt and bending limbs down caused a break. It is now mended and doing well. Good Luck, Bill

while We are at this topic, I just want to show you a photo of a broken multi grafted Asian pear from heavy Fruit load from last season. I just want to see if I can save this branch by sealing the large crack with silicon and wrapped with several layers of aluminum tape from 3M and several layers of cobain got left over from OR Cases like Tib/Fib Fx. I saved this branch and it is Flowering now.


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I manage many apple trees that have huge branches and smaller ones that have split and healed, strong as ever, with no help from humans.

As a general rule, one should never seal wounds with any compound besides maybe Lac Basalm (approximate spelling) which is about the only one that has proven at all useful. Silicon will only prevent moisture from escaping and encourage mold.

Trees heal by sealing off fungus infected tissue, not by eradicating the fungus in the manner of animals.

If a split branch winds up too low you can prop it up and it may stabilize after a couple seasons.

that is a very heavy branch, or trunk, if it is a more appropriate term.
you could probably brace it around with several thin rebars, and tied around with wire.
and since you may have seen or performed OR procedures, you could try drilling along the length of the lateral aspect of the trunk and implant a hefty rebar then tie with wire.
much like you would implant titanium rods into femurs snapped in two.
it may still need trimming many of the smaller branches to minimize leverage effects of strong gusts
would take years for the cambium to grow around and over the wires and rebars, but may still be worth the effort.


Thanks for the response. I just want to see if I can the save the branch and see how callus forms by the end of a growing season. I may end up collect some scions from it and re-bark graft it next Spring. I have spent thousand of hours giving anesthetic to ORIF of Fx femurs over the last 12 years and I will take the easy way out by re-grafting it.LOL. This branch is the product of my own Asian pear crossed. Just want to keep it alive for memory.



Alan is right, it’s best not to use a sealant. Still, I love that picture. That’s some serious doctoring of that tree, ace bandage and all. :smile:


I assume your trees are apples. I was a bit surprised about Alan’s experience about split apple branches healing as strong as they were before. He’s pruned more apple trees than I’ve probably seen, so I learned something new today.

With peaches, if a scaffold or a big branch splits I prune it off and try to grow another. Peach wood isn’t as strong as apple wood. If a split forms in a peach scaffold at the point of trunk attachment, there is no long term repair, other than some type of permanent reinforcement (cabling, etc.)

I agree about peach and apple wood as you describe it Olpea. Those split branches I mentioned were all on apple trees. Under the loads they took a peach branch would have broken entirely. The wood also doesn’t have the same ability to heal.

Peach wood breaks when apple wood would simply bend.

Thanks folks,

I’m seeing this damage throughout the orchard, but the ones I’m contemplating saving are on plum and apple.

I’m wondering if even if I plan to remove the branch in a season or so if perhaps I can’t get a cleaner pruning and faster heal if I leave the branch attached, supported and living at least until some callus forms back in and around. Then maybe take it off this fall. If I prune it out now, I worry all of the split material will die back. In that case, it is hard not to see it becoming a section of trunk with a massive tear to heal over.

If they were a bit bigger, I wouldnt hesitate to cable them up permenantly but they just don’t have the meat for that kind of work and hardware


I’ve had a few splits on plums (from scaffolds being broken off with the mower). They were bigger than what you describe leaving nasty injuries to the trunk. I removed them and they seemed to heal fine in my area.

obtaining twigs are clearly the most practical approach in saving that branch. It is quite difficult to graft or repair bigger branches, because any increase in a stem’s caliper signifies a much larger increase in overall weight, relative to cambium thickness.
we could have the most precise carving tools, but with large trunks, the heartwood is heavy, dense, and dead; and will never fuse with the heartwood of the rootstock . If we were to test the strength of a 1 inch thick branch which was originally grafted from a 0.6 inch thick scion wood, and compare it against a 1 inch thick branch which was originally grafted from a 0.2 inch thick scion wood, the latter would be stronger wood, because the continuity of heartwood and sapwood of the latter is much larger.