norway maple pruning

Asked June 14, 2016, 11:17 AM EDT

I have a Norway Maple that I planted about 10 years ago. There are a few branches that appear dead. There is no growth, leaves, etc on these branches. When is the best time to cut these branches off??? They are less than 3 inches in diameter at the trunk. Thanks!!

Hennepin County Minnesota

1 Response

Thank you for the question. There is no right answer to your question of when is the best time to prune a maple tree. It is ok to prune dead branches or those that pose a danger to people or structures at any time, but according to the University of Minnesota Extension publication "Pruning Trees and Shrubs" the late dormant season is best for most pruning. Pruning in late winter, just before spring growth starts, leaves fresh wounds exposed for only a short length of time before new growth begins the wound sealing process. Another advantage of dormant pruning is that it's easier to make pruning decisions without leaves obscuring plant branch structure. Pruning at the proper time can avoid certain disease and physiological problems: Pruning at the proper time can avoid certain disease and physiological problems: Some trees have free-flowing sap that "bleeds" after late winter or early spring pruning. Though this bleeding causes little harm, it may still be a source of concern. To prevent bleeding, you could prune the following trees after their leaves are fully expanded in late spring or early summer. Never remove more than 1/4 of the live foliage. Examples include: All maples, including box elder Butternut and walnut Birch and its relatives, ironwood and blue beech Here is the link to the entire publication: You can see that late winter or early spring are the best times unless bleeding sap is a bother to you or there are dead or dangerous branches. For safety reasons, a large tree may be better in the hands of a certified arborist. Thank you for contacting Extension.