Quick Backgrounder: I bought this tree in 2008. In 2017, it isn't taller than 3 feet. It was in a container for the longest time and experienced some stress related to low light conditions and occasionally not being watered enough. It's leaves would develop a bit of a spotted curled up brown condition in early fall. For several years I wondered if it had verticillium wilt but think it's okay; the low water, in a container conditions might have accounted for the curled up leaves. Then I moved in 2014 and some of the wee branches were damaged in transit. Deer grazed it. Finally I put it in the ground in a deer proof area in 2015. It seems to be doing fine but no doubt is still becoming acquainted with its new location. In the 8 years I've owned the tree it has not grown much at all. I now live in Victoria BC. Despite all the above, clearly this tree has staying power! I realized last year that I probably needed to prune off one of the two main branches that have developed. I have hesitated to prune this tree because it's already been under stress for many years and I understand acers don't respond well to pruning. I didn't want to stress it out yet again with a major cut. Also, there haven't been an abundance of leaves on the tree which I realize are essential for feeding the plant. Cutting off limbs is like cutting off the hands that feed. That said, I realize the tight v-shape of the junction is not good for the long term health of the tree. I'm sensing that doing the cut sooner than later is better... but I hesitate. After LOTS of consideration, I think the better branch to retain is the straighter 11/16" diameter one that is more upright lending a "standard" aspect to the tree (despite having fewer leaf buds). I'm wondering if more experienced growers could offer advice. Should I just let the tree be or should I cut off the 10/16" branch? It has a lateral branch that is growing "into" the tree - yet another reason to bail on this branch? Is it best to do this pruning in late winter? More experienced growers might say give up and get a new one. This tree cost a lot back in 2008 and I've lugged it around and want to see it survive. The two main branches (all photos, March 2016) Diameter below branch junction The 10/16" branch with buds pointed into the tree. The 11/16" branch that I think should be retained. Another view of the tree with the upright (to be retained?) 11/16" branch on left and the (to be removed?) 10/16" branch on right. Your advice is deeply appreciated.