Experimental Homestead

Video on Removing Burr Knots



‘Tis the season to do tree surgery- at the beginning of the growing season and after most of the rain.  A short video here on my experience so far with removing burr knots (arial root balls) from apple trees and how/why I think it works.   When I looked for information before trying this a few years ago I found almost nothing.  I think there was literally one dude in the internet universe who was like “yeah, you can cut those off” (I’m totally paraphrasing).  So, hopefully this will help a few people with those unsightly and, lets face it, unsafe burr knots.   It looks pretty dope too, because I finally got a new camera!  Now I have the potential shoot killer HD video with any lens that will fit on the camera, which is almost any lens actually.  I’m still climbing a steep learning curve with audio, camera functions and all the details, like remembering what the hell it was I was going to say, but I think things are improving pretty fast.

BTW, look up your root stocks to see if they are prone to Burr Knots and if so, plant them up to the graft union.  Nobody told me that back in the day, but then again if they had, I wouldn’t have got to make this video and dork out on burr knot theory.


April 2, 2015 - Posted by | Apples, Food Trees Fruits and Nuts | , , , , , , ,


  1. I really enjoy your unhurried explorations into these more esoteric realms of horticulture. They definitely deserve the new camera.

    I’m not sure I’ll be out carving burr knots in the morning, but I will definitely be looking at these more closely from now on. And I will keep your technique at the ready when the benefits seem to necessarily outweigh the risks.

    Regardless, your work is clean and elegant, and I’m certain your trees respond abundantly to such meticulous care.

    I look forward to the next installment.

    Comment by Andy | April 2, 2015 | Reply

    • Thanks Andy. I really felt like I was wasting my time with my last camera because the lens was so mediocre. Also, I couldn’t control depth of field effects or all manual settings. This tiny Sony nex 5 camera gives me fairly unleashed creative capability in a very small package, or at least will when I collect more lenses. If I’m going to bother doing the work, might as well not be hobbled by mediocre equipment.

      I would have had all my burr knots cut out when they were smaller if I’d known for sure it would work. Most of my trees only had one or two of them, or none at all, but this tree is particularly bad. I won’t be surprised if it suffers heart rot eventually from all these large wounds, but it’s all part of the experiment! Live and learn.

      Comment by Stevene | April 3, 2015 | Reply

  2. It looks like some of our grafts at school are taking. We shall see soon. I had 2 students who were really into it. I did learn that it takes a lot of time if you are planning on doing lots of grafts. I found the boys grafting apricot and nectarine onto peach. It looks like the apricot is taking. Again, time will tell. I didn’t get a chance to graft any trees at my house this year :(. I’m planning on buying property so am hoping I won’ t be here next spring. Thanks for your help. Hope your health is better. Deb Hughes South Valley HS

    Comment by Deborah Hughes | April 5, 2015 | Reply

  3. Why knot try mixing some kocide in with doc farwell and paint that on the burr?

    Surley that would inhibit root initials. Less of a gaping wound to heal too!

    Comment by Larry | May 17, 2015 | Reply

    • Who knows without trying it. I think the pine pitch is going to work out well. Next time I’m going to approach the bur knot more carefully and take off as little as I can. If any rootlets are left, then I can always cut them out later. Can probably make a lot smaller wound that way.

      Comment by Stevene | May 17, 2015 | Reply

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