Optimizing tree responses to root pruning in mature trees

2021, Justin Morgenroth, PhD, The University of Canterbury, Co-PI Andrew R. Benson, PhD

Roots are important tree structures and have a key biological function in tree health and survival. Despite this, root pruning is a common practice. The roots of trees are removed, usually for buried utility maintenance, sidewalk repairs or other civil construction projects. When roots are damaged, or removed, the wound sites can become points of entry for decay-causing organisms such as fungi, which can lead to secondary tree health problems. Similarly, the removal of roots, particularly large roots, affects tree function and growth by reducing the surface area of nutrient and water absorbing roots. New roots need to be grown by the tree for healthy tree function and growth to continue. It is therefore necessary to understand how to optimize tree responses to root injury, by applying correct pruning techniques in the same way as branches are pruned from the crown. To achieve this, we will undertake different root pruning regimes on mature trees to see their response to pruning position (internodal cut versus cut to a lateral root branch) and seasonality (pruning in summer versus winter). Pruning cuts will be made on a variety of root sizes to see whether the responses depend on root size.

Year: 2021

Funding Duration: 2 years

Grant Program: John Kimmel International Grant

Grant Title: Optimizing tree responses to root pruning in mature trees

Researcher: Justin Morgenroth,PhD

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For more information on this project, contact the researcher via TREE Fund at treefund@treefund.org.