Structural Features Related to Tree Crotch Strength
Farrell, Robert William
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Crotches were cut out of red maple (Acer rubrum), callery pear (Pyrus calleryana), and sawtooth oak (Quercus acutissima) trees (2.5â -7â d.b.h.) and then pulled apart in an engineering testing machine to identify physical parameters correlated with crotch strength. Parameters measured included the diameter of the branch and of the trunk above and below the crotch, angle of the branch and branch bark ridge, and the length of the crotch and the branch bark ridge. The force required to break each sample was used to calculate breaking strength based on the formula for bending stress. Each parameter was tested for correlation with crotch strength within the individual species and for the three species combined. The ratio of branch diameter over crotch width had the highest correlation coefficient for crotch strength. Branch angle was also correlated with crotch strength but not as highly as the ratio of the diameters. V-shaped crotches (those with included bark) were significantly weaker than U-shaped crotches for all species. The ratio of the two stem diameters greatly influenced the manner in which the crotches broke. In crotches where the branch diameter was 2/3 the size of the trunk or smaller, the crotch broke by being pulled directly out of the trunk. Crotches with branches more than 2/3 the diameter of the trunk broke when the trunk split longitudinally and had significantly lower strength values. These results indicate that increased crotch strength results from a small branch diameter relative to that of the trunk.
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