I've tried your crop suggestion. Those branches are the biggest problem blending the various exposures so I don't mind losing them but I kind of miss the mountains that get lost with them. I've opened the shadows somewhat but I think starting over from scratch with that in mind would be better. I have enough brackets to do that. One of my reactions to many of the HDR photos I see is that the shadows are unnaturally light. Shadow detail may also be more obvious in a print than on screen.
I agree with the comment about the yellow cast in the sky. I have not yet been able to get it out without getting other things to look funny. I'm not yet finished with this shot.
Thanks for your comments. I appreciate it.