where should that bc trunk chop go?

Sneak Peek

Essentially all collected large Bald cypresses are trunk-chopped. In the wild they may be 20 feet tall. When you get them home they end up 2 feet tall. Then you start building.

Where Should that BC Trunk Chop Go?


I acquired this nice stout Bald cypress back in May. It’s definitely a masculine tree, with a solid 4.5″ base (5″ above the soil) and decent fluting. As you can see, it pushed a very strong leader and that leader was dominant enough that it ended up with no real competition. Considering that this view of the tree is definitely the front, I was presented with two options: one, proceed with the angled chop despite the position of the leader; or two, chop it off and wait for new buds and hope one of them is smack dab in front. I decided to go with option one. The idea of losing all that progress just didn’t appeal to me, and besides, I’m very confident I can make it work as-is.




I do the angled trunk chop from the bottom up, using a large trunk splitter. Here you can see I’ve taken about half the bite out of this trunk so far. The leader lies below the original chop, so I need to get out my saw and level off the chop point before continuing.

Here’s what this ends up looking like. You can see the horizontal cut ends right where the leader emerges from the trunk. I need more wood up here in order to keep the rolling callus from producing a reverse taper (but not as much as you see here!). More carving is needed.

This is a textbook example of how a BC angled trunk chop should look. When the callus starts to roll, it’s going to be stronger at the top than the bottom. If you can picture the shape of the callus as more or less the reverse of the chop, you’ll see that when it’s rolled over completely I’m going to have a very smooth taper all the way from the bottom of the chop through to the base of the leader (and on up from there as I grow and chop the leader itself). The whole process will take about five to seven years, given the size of the wound. The trunk measured about 2.5″ across at the original chop, so that’s a good bit of ground for the callus to cover. But it will.

I figured that while I was at it, I might as well wire out the branches in the main part of the trunk. I left the branches on the leader alone, because they’re all going away when it gets chopped back. For now, I want all the growth up there I can get so the leader thickens going into fall. I’ll chop in late winter, in preparation for the emergence of the next leader in spring.

So back to the original question: Where should that BC trunk chop go? Ideally, in front. But you’ll eventually get a changeup from your tree instead of a fastball, so you adjust and make it work. This is going to work, and it’s going to work well. It’ll just take some time.

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