Why did my tree branch fall? Sudden Branch Drop Syndrome Explained

What causes a tree branches to fall or fail? Sudden Branch Failure Syndrome Explained.

Hey guys my name is Mark Russell, 770 Arborist, and this is Sudden Branch Failure Syndrome Explained. It is July 15th.  It’s hot in Georgia today. I want to talk to you about Sudden Branch Failure Syndrome. In the last two weeks I’ve got about eight to ten calls from situations exactly like this. Today we’re at a house to remove a couple trees.  Once we got out here and I saw this sweet gum branch that had failed.  Look way up here at the top of the tree where his branch was from.

Sudden Branch Failure Syndrome Explained..

So here’s the question, why do tree branches fail in the middle of the summer. The answer is Sudden Branch Failure Syndrome. So what is that?  Here’s the basics. You can kind of see if you look in this area. See this rounding here and the way that this tree failed and delaminated. Here what you have is some delimitation as well which is separation. I don’t know if you can see well, but it’s a separation of, essentially, the rings and the heartwood as the tree grows. When it’s the middle of the summer and it’s really droughty or really wet is when we see Sudden Branch Failure Syndrome.  These rings in the tree are held together or laminated together as they grow. Under certain conditions in the hot months, even in low wind, (it’s rarely a wind issue) is when we most see Sudden Branch Failure Syndrome occurrences  pop up.  

It’s really funny – I got a good story.  I heard Dr. Kim coder from UGA speak on this at the Georgia Arborist Association on a Thursday like two summers ago. On my way home from that convention I was driving by Ebenezer Baptist Church in Crabapple Georgia. Right when I drove by I looked over and an oak branch snapped and fell on their arbor. There was no wind! I was like wow! I can’t believe I just saw that! It was really cool because it’s kind of a rare thing to happen anyway, and I just got to see it. And right after hearing someone speak on it.

So, anyway if you’re wondering why did my tree branch just fail, a lot of times it’s the Sudden Branch Drop Syndrome that affects deciduous trees. Just today I got a call from a person with a pecan. I got a call on a sweet gum this week too and here is a sweet gum having issues.


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