Gilman, E.F. and J.C. Grabosky
Branch union morphology affects decay following pruning

Arboriculture & Urban Forestry 32 (2): 74-79

Branch diameter relative to the trunk diameter (aspect ratio) affected the extent of discolored and decayed wood in the trunk of seedling-propagated red maple (Acer rubrum L.) after branch removal. More discoloration resulted from removing codominant stems than removing branches that were small compared to trunk. Removing limbs that originated from lateral buds resulted in the same amount of discoloration and decay as removing suppressed limbs that were once the leader. This result provides indirect evidence that a small codominant stem suppressed by pruning techniques designed to slow its growth rate can result in a branch protection zone at the union. There was no relation between the presence of a bark inclusion and decay 4 years after making pruning cuts.
Click here for full article (PDF file)