What is Tree Lopping?
Tree Lopping is the unselective and haphazard cutting of tree branches to stubs or to lateral branches that are not large enough to assume a terminal role. Other names for Lopping include “Topping,” “Heading”
Tree lopping is an outdated practice that was once used to reduce the size of a tree. A property owner may believe that a tree has become too large for their property, or that large or tall trees pose an intolerable risk to themselves or their property. Tree Lopping, however, is not a viable method of height reduction and definitely does not reduce the future risk of tree failures. As a matter of fact Lopping will most likely increase risk of a major tree failure in the long term.
Tree Lopping causes Stress to Trees
Tree Lopping can remove a large percentage of a tree’s leaf-bearing crown. Leaves are the food producers of a tree. Removing these food producers can temporarily starve a tree. If the tree does not have the stored energy reserves to do so, it will be seriously weakened and may die.
If the tree does have the energy reserves it may respond by activating dormant buds, forcing the rapid growth of multiple shoots below each cut. This new growth, sometimes referred to as epicormic growth, is not usually as well attached to the tree as normal terminal branch growth. Unlike normal branches that develop in a socket of overlapping wood tissues, these new shoots are anchored only in the outermost layers of the parent branches and are weakly attached. New shoots grow quickly, as much as 6 metres in one year in some species. Unfortunately, the shoots are prone to breaking, especially during heavy rain and windy weather conditions.
Tree Lopping Leads to Decay
A tree with large, open pruning wounds is more vulnerable to insect and disease infestations. Lopping may reduce the trees ability to chemically defend the wounds against pathogens , and some insects and bacteria are actually attracted to the chemical signals trees release.
Properly pruned a tree is biologically equipped to close such a wound, provided the tree is healthy enough and the wound is not too large. Cuts made along a limb between lateral branches create stubs with wounds that the tree may not be able to close. these exposed wood tissues may begin to decay. Wood decay can lead to loss of tree vigor and vitality, resulting in decline, dieback, and structural failure. Wounds play an important part in this process since they are the primary point of entry for wood decay pathogens
Tree Lopping Can Lead to Sunburn of the trees branches and leaves
Branches within a tree’s crown produce thousands of leaves to absorb sunlight. When the leaves are removed, the remaining branches and trunk are suddenly exposed to high levels of UV light and heat. The result of this can be cankers, bark splitting, and death of some branches. This damage can reduce protection against pathogens that can cause infection and decay. Insects, bacteria, and fungi all have easy access to the tree and can begin to cause irreversible damage or even death.