GALENA, Mo. — Repair may be in order to keep storm-damaged trees healthy and less susceptible to disease and insects, says a University of Missouri Extension agronomy specialist.

“Most of the wounds on the trees will be from limbs that broke and splintered as they fell,” said Tim Schnakenberg. “The broken limbs high in the trees may require professional help but the lower limbs that are more accessible will require care to prune off splintered stubs.”

If a large portion of the limb is still attached to a main branch or trunk, cutting that heavy limb away a foot or two from the crotch will insure that no major splintering occurs when the limb falls.

Schnakenberg recommends making a shallow cut on the underside of the limb a foot or two from the trunk to keep the bark from tearing when it falls, then cut it off on the top side 2-3 inches beyond the undercut.

The stub that remains should be cut flush and as close to the main branch or trunk as possible.

“Be very aware of overhead power utility lines. If the branches are touching these lines, call your utility company. They can address the problem after full service in the area has been restored and cleanup is complete,” Schnakenberg said.

Tree wounds less than an inch in diameter will heal quickly enough to warrant no additional treatment. Larger wounds can be treated with a tree wound dressing or pruning paint to protect the tree while healing and prevent the formation of a cavity.

Research has shown that these applications probably do not increase the rate of healing but may prevent drying and provide some cosmetic effects.

If damaged trees are not repaired, or if they have been repaired improperly, a cavity may develop, which could shorten the life of the tree.

“When pruning a damaged tree, be sure it is cut flush so there is no way for water to stand in an open pocket of the tree. If a large cavity exists, it may require flashing or tin to keep rain from filling the cavity with water,” said Schnakenberg.

For more information, see the MU Extension guide “First Aid for Storm-Damaged Trees” (G6867), available for free download at

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