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Preventing wind damage to trees through pruning practices

Making It Grow Radio Minute
SC Public Radio

Extension agent Laura Rose introduced me to Michael Murphy several years ago. Michael, a certified arborist, spent twenty years working in Beaufort. Sadly, working in that lovely location meant having extensive knowledge of the effects of hurricanes on trees. Recently, he shared with me new findings from research done by the renowned University of Florida tree expert Edward Gilman. Collaborating with a colleague with has a portable wind tunnel, they gave twenty cloned live oaks different pruning practices. The results showed that the previously accepted technique of clearing the small branches and suckers from the interior of the tree in the belief that they acted as a sail that caught the wind causing the tree to be blown more severely was incorrect. The new accepted standard is called the natural pruning system and promotes trees less susceptible to wind damage.

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Amanda McNulty is a Clemson University Extension Horticulture agent and the host of South Carolina ETV’s Making It Grow! gardening program. She studied horticulture at Clemson University as a non-traditional student. “I’m so fortunate that my early attempts at getting a degree got side tracked as I’m a lot better at getting dirty in the garden than practicing diplomacy!” McNulty also studied at South Carolina State University and earned a graduate degree in teaching there.