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Girdling/Ring-barking to improve wood quality  RSS feed

Posts: 4
Location: Switzerland
fungi trees woodworking
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Hi everyone

I made  a intresting opservation on a girdeled walnut

use Girdling/Ring-barking  to improve proportions of heartwood.
i made a intresting opservation on a girdeled  walnut. below the girdeling cut the proportions of the heartwood was a lot biger then above of the cut. the walenut was about 20cm in diameter and 15 years oald, so you wold not expect any heartwood. Ore only first sines of it. This was the case about the cut, but below 2/3 uf the diameter wher turned in to heartwood. when i split the trunk you could see an abrupt cange in color on the level of the cut.

now to use this phenomenon to ouer advantage  we have to modify it a little. the girdeling  would have to be below the first big  branches. So the main trunk does not get any asimilates from about. this will starve the long living cells (parenchyma) in the sapwood and forse them to initiate  the process which turns them in to heartwood. like it happens usualy with aging of the sapwood.  the pores cloas and camicals are acumulate in the cells which gifs the heartwood it's durability and the nice dark color. but the cut below the crown is not enougth.
if you do this some of the tree spicies probably reakt with heavy production of trunk shoots/water sprouts.
to prevent  this you need to do a secound cut on ground level. This s becouse, with the first cut you not only suppress the transport of assimilates from leaf to root. you also stopt the flow of auxin. Auxin is a plant hormon prodused in the top of young shoots which ceps  secundary buts dormant. (auxin also improves root groth and is the Active substance in willow water. This is why i think it is more  efficient to just use the top of young willo shoots. ) with the cut on ground level you stop the suplay of cytokinine a other hormon, produced in the roots.  Cytokenine forces buts to sprout, if ther is not enougth auxin  to suppress it. the process takes probably about 2 to 3 years.
I will try this on a large brunch of a oak next to my home. if anyone  girdel trees mabe you cane chack for this observation. one some trees it's mabe bether to do girdel in two steps. like blacke lackust. in the first year you only cut 4/5 of the bark and the rest in the second year, otherwise the tree will die to fast. And just resprout from roots. it is also importend to leave the sapwood undamaged. otherwice the tree will just dry out. With out the building  of heartwood.

A similar  technique was applied  on some pine trees, to improfe wood quality and Resin content. the spicies i heard this was picea abies. In the case of pine trees girdeling is propably a bad idee. It will end with the spoiling of the wood and atraction of bark beeatels . so what they did, back in the day, was remov the bark of the tree. And let it stay for a other two years, till it drops the nedels and is dry
The sapwood will turn into a glass like structure with a hige content of rosin.
A frind of me tried this and told me about.
And i will this try to. But it would be great to have a proper  sorce about this. Eiter a History raport or a study.

Best regards from switzerland
Patrick Barmet

PS: I apologize for my spelling but dyslexia makes writing in a foreign language not just easier.
Feel free to edit my text and corect my spelling

Posts: 221
Location: Dawson Creek, BC, Canada
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Hello Patrick.

I think I see enough past the spelling to read your note.  I often visit a blog where the lead has dyslexia also.

Last spring, I seen more girdling than I wanted around the farm, all by mice or rabbits I think.  I did read some piece of literature which said voles are more prone to girdle than mice, and I have voles on the farm as well, so maybe they were involved.

There is a paper out of the US Forest Labs on tools that can be used to girdle trees.


Woodweb is a web site for people wanting to produce wood and things from wood.  Not really hobby-ist.  They have a thread on girdling as well.


Girdling is used to increase fruit production with some crops, and I think I would describe the result you seen as an example of this.  But in the little research I've done, I have seen nothing like what you have written about.

I am just starting my adventures with trees and planting them.  In large part I want to remove most branches below something like 15-20 feet, so that I can get my lawnmower underneath the branches (it is meant to do fairways at golf courses).  My interest also involves species like black locust, which I think would sprout if exposed to your treatment.

One source I read, suggests that some diseases (like blue stain) could make themselves present if this was done.

While girdling is a way to kill trees, it is not immediate.  Some anecdotes talk about a girdled tree surviving for 2 or 3 years before dying.  It is apparently not felt to be a good way to produce dead standing trees for wildlife to use in the forest.  At some point, the dead trees will lose limbs.  Girdling was practiced in agriculture before there was equipment readily available to fell trees.  And apparently some early farmers lost their lives to falling limbs.  The girdling point also tends to be the location where the trunk eventually fails, and the (remaining) tree falls.  Unlike falling a tree deliberately today, because there are no controlling cuts with the girdle or use of wedges, the trunk could fall in directions that are inconvenient, and it could fail in ways that cause a lot of damage to the wood of the trunk.  I would hope that if a tree was properly cut down shortly after dying from being girdled, that a person could harvest this section of the tree.  Perhaps the place to start with this would be in trying to grow fence posts, which are only a few inches thick.  That way a person can get a statistically valid sample size in a relatively short period of time.  And if a person was growing a species like black locust, the tendency to produce sprouts would actually be wanted so as to get a start on the next set of fence posts.
Gordon Haverland
Posts: 221
Location: Dawson Creek, BC, Canada
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I ran across a web page with a nice set of images on girdling.


Time of year to girdle trees seems to be species dependent.  I've seen beginning of winter and end of winter mentioned (sometimes called late fall or early spring).
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