What to do with large recent pruned branches?

While putting on my first coat of dormant spray and copper, I started thinking about all of the big branches I pruned off of an old apple and peach tree that are still laying off to the side of my fruit trees.

I plan to burn them eventually, but they are far from being dry, so not sure how they will burn right now.
Do, I need to be concerned about bugs and disease coming from them and getting on to my recently sprayed trees?

I would think so, is it sufficient to move them to another part of our property? We have five acres. Or do I need to completly remove them or burn them at this time?

Thank you for letting me know!

John in KY

I would bring them to my fireplace until they dry.

Waiting a week or two until they are dry will not be big deal.

Thanks Scott, you mean wait a week or two until they are somewhat dry, and then burn them to get rid of them?

So then there is some concern that the bugs who wintered over in the pruned branches will then make there way back on to the tree I take it. Makes total sense of course, especially if they can fly.

I will take them away from my fruit trees and move them closer to my burn pile to burn as soon as I can.

Thank you for confirming this!

John in KY

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Well, I have 200+ acres that I could haul pruned branches and other litter to in my pickup, but I usually just burn it about 30 yards away from the fruit trees in a green field. If it doesn’t all burn in in one try, just let it dry a week or two and burn it again. Anything really heavy I may haul it away or just drag it to the woods with the 4-wheel drive. Do what is most convenient and is safe.


Some folks make habitats out of those branches.

Don’t put all of your clippings and pruned branches on the curb to be hauled away. If you have room in your landscape, adding a brush pile is one of the most effective ways you can provide habitat for a diversity of wildlife. And birds use brush piles for shelter.

A brush pile will attract small mammals such as squirrels. The burrows they create will later provide space for bumble bees to nest. Brush piles also provide cover for other ground nesting bees. And they provide food for invertebrates who eventually break the piles down into valuable organic matter for your garden.


I harvest chords of fruit tree wood and it is an important fuel for me. I also have hundreds of bales of composting fruit tree brush on the edge of my orchard and nursery that I pruned from other orchards I manage. I believe the bales actually increase the amount of rainwater captured by my soil serving not just nearby trees but my wells aquifer.

After 30 years of behaving in a manor so unsanitary I’ve yet to experience any negative consequences. My orchard doesn’t have disease pressure greater than the other more sanitary orchards I manage. I always take expert advice with a grain of salt.

However, I don’t recommend storing wood with black knot on it. I’ve never worried about FB strikes though… it has never reared its ugly head in my nursery or orchard. I don’t even care if wood has mites or scale… neither have ever gotten a foothold in my orchard… maybe too many predators.

When you break rules you sometimes pay a price, but lots of times you learn something. Using my land as my dump earns me money… I charge my customers a dump fee.

Because my land is steep and uneven the bales of brush (compressed and tied with string) never become an eyesore. Least, not to my eyes.

Burning is a waste of effort and gradually contaminates a burn site. Composting wood never does any harm…if you have the space. If I didn’t I’d purchase a powerful chipper.

Most amazingly, when I get a plague of rabbits, they are a problem all over my region and not specific to my property or property nearby… my massive brush also hasn’t caused a high level of vole pressure.


Thank you everyone for your input. I also have a variety of things that I can do with my cuttings, not just burning.

But my real question is, if I leave them around, won’t the same bugs come out of them now in the spring and re-infest the fruit trees that I just worked hard to spray and remove the pests from? Mainly, OMF.

John in KY

Oh, yes… True diversity… Groundhogs, rabbits. For some reason never saw any foxes or other predators living in a brash pile. Not sure if I want such diversity around my orchard.

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I answered that question, I thought. Even when I bring wood from other orchards I haven’t had a problem. If you have controlled the pests on your trees all the less reason to worry.

I don’t think many things overwinter on one branch which could go from a dead branch to a live one. Things like moths and curculio are likely overwintering outside the orchard. Scale aphids etc don’t move from dead branches I don’t think… they wake up in the spring and need to feed right where they are so if the limb they are on is dead they are dead.

Note I still do clear everything out, I like a neat orchard and yard.


Thanks Scott for that information and insights. I like a neat yard as well, and will get things cleaned up soon.

i think often pruning wood is not a significant disease vector.

The clear exception in my mind are wood fungus diseases. Like
Neonectria ditissima - Wikipedia (used to be called Nectria galligena)
Chondrostereum purpureum - Wikipedia
come to mind as the more harmful ones. for me.
Im in a different climate than you though. So your disease pressure/species might differ.

I tend to remove wood of tree’s that have a clear wood fungus infection. Since the fungus can make mushrooms and spores and survive/re-infect from the dead pruning wood in most cases.

another option might be to burry the thicker pruning wood. A lot of insects or fungus can’t get trough a foot of dirt. A clear exception might be Armillaria mellea - Wikipedia


People love fruit wood for smoking meats. In our area, people pay a premium for fruit wood. Giving it away to friends makes many people happy. Usually, if i have extra wood, i leave it throughout the orchard to enrich the trees and give it away. or burn it for barbecue myself. If you cook on charcoal normally or gas, try fruit wood. You’re in for a real treat when you try apple wood smoked steaks or hamburgers.


My signature party meat is charcoal-grill cooked whole chicken with the charcoal on the opposite side of the Weber grill as the chicken and some green applewood placed over the charcoal, all cooked under the grill dome. I often use charcoal made from apple wood taken hot our of my woodburning stove during cool or cold weather and carried directly to the grill. However, I can’t taste the difference between using other wood for the charcoal and I don’t even taste any apple essence from the green apple wood…does anyone? It may be the idea of the source of smoke as much as anything that make fruit woods popular for smoking.

It doesn’t use up much of my overall pruning wood but it does make a delicious chicken that people rave about. Sometimes I make a garlic, hot pepper, coriander, garlic, paste that I baste the chicken with half way through the cooking process. The beauty of it is partially that you grill without having to watch over the grill. Use a timer and you can talk to your guests without risk of burning meat. Great for big slabs of red meat or even whole turkeys as well. Duck too.

I’ve never gotten around to using a smoker, although I enjoy a bit of smoked meat in stews and smoked fish, but health warnings make me cautious of overall consumption, even if the danger may come only from nitrites used in industrial smoked meats.


You could sell them on ebay.etc or you could give them away locally to folks who raise rabbits, gerbils, hamsters…

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