Storm-damaged 40-year-old birch tree

(Question)

Heavy snow forced a branch of our wonderfully big birch tree to tear away, double back and create a long split on its supporting branch. The split is about 16 inches away from the main tree trunk.

I know I can cut off the smaller branch but what about the split in the bigger one? Since the wound will make the tree susceptible to insect and disease damage, I’m worried. Can I cut away the damaged bark and hope that it will regrow over the split? 

I am worried that if I remove the large damaged branch, it will impact the tree’s appearance and even worse, that’s such a big branch that it might make my tree so unbalanced it will lean in towards the house.

(Answer)

As you have recognized, the best solution would be to remove the split branch. Just cutting away the torn bark will not heal the wound.

You have suggested that you just  cut off the smaller branch. In that case, you would have to watch the new wound you make, as well as the original split, to see if problems develop, and I really think they will do so.

From your description of the age and size of the tree, and therefore, its value, I don’t recommend that you try to solve this problem on your own but seek the help of a qualified arborist. 

You can visit the website of the local branch of the International Society of Arborists, www.isaontario.com, to identify an experienced certified and insured professional in your area.