Let’s Get Cutting

Volunteer using chainsaw to cut up a boxelder tree.

Southern Wisconsin Trout Unlimited volunteer cuts up boxelder as part of Sugar River work day last December.

If you have been waiting for the right time to cut wood invasive trees, shrubs and vines; now is the time. Snow is off the ground so it is easy to find and cut buckthorn, honey suckle and oriental bittersweet.

Stack the cut branches into a tight brush pile. I like to point the branches all in the same direction to get a tighter pack. Try pushing the pile down and even climbing on it to crush the branches. I even use my chainsaw to slice through the pile to compact it even more. A dense brush pile will light easier and burn hotter because the wood is packed closer together, making it easier to get the fuel to its ignition temperature.

Remember to cut close to the ground and immediately treat stumps with herbicide (e.g., Garlon 4 or Roundup). Read and follow label direction for the correct dilution. For those larger trees like boxelder and bigger buckthorn, you only need to treat the outside sap ring because the inner heartwood is not living and will not transport herbicide.

Time is running out, so don’t delay. Once the buds begin to swell and break the sap will be running from he roots up into the leaves. When that happens, the tree will not only stop pulling the herbicide down into the roots, but it may actively push the herbicide back out of the stump. Once the sap starts running, wait several months until the leaves have fully opened. At that point the shrub or tree will again start pulling nutrients down into the roots and along with those nutrients your herbicide.

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