who planted new trees this year, especially ones with thin bark, will
want to protect the southwest side of the new tree this winter to
protect it from sunscald.
Many young, smooth, thin-barked trees like honey locusts, fruit trees,
ashes, oaks, maples, lindens, red buds and willows are susceptible to
sunscald and bark cracks, according to John Hobbs, agriculture and
rural development specialist with University of Missouri Extension.
develops on the south or southwest side of a tree during late winter.
Sunscald and bark cracks can lead to the death of a tree if it is not
given special care."
According to Hobbs, sunny, warm winter days may heat the bark to
relatively high temperatures.
Research done in Georgia shows that the
southwest side of the trunk on a peach tree can be 40 degrees warmer
than shaded bark in the winter.
"This warming action can cause a loss of cold hardiness of the bark
tissue resulting in cells becoming active," said Hobbs. "These cells
then become susceptible to lethal freezing when the temperature drops
The damaged bark tissue becomes sunken and discolored in late spring.
Damaged bark will eventually crack and slough off. Trees will often
recover but will need some lots of extra care, especially watering
during dry weather.
To prevent sunscald, the trunks of susceptible trees can be covered
wrap in October or November.
Hobbs recommends applying tree
wrap from the ground to the
start of the first branches to protect
recently planted trees.
wrap must be removed in March to
prevent girdling and possible
insect damage. Until the bark has thickened on young trees, they may
need to be wrapped yearly."
Another product that can be used on the trunk is tree
latex paint is often used in orchards to help prevent splitting and
cracking by reflecting light and heat from the tree trunk. Due to
aesthetic reasons, most homeowners
are not interested in using tree paints.
Source: University of
Because phloem tubes sit on the outside of the xylem, and just under
the bark, trees and other woody plants can easily be killed by
stripping away the bark in a ring on the trunk or main stem. This
process is known as girdling or bark ringing.
Incomplete girdling (i.e., leaving about one-third of the bark intact)
can be used to control a plant's growth. It can curb excessive leafy
growth and help promote flowering and fruiting. It is a very useful
process for unproductive fruit trees, with the exception of stone fruit.
Mice, voles, and rabbits can often girdle trees as they feed on its
nutritious, sappy bark -- where these animals are a problem, trees
should be protected with some kind of netting or other physical barrier
around the main stem.
Botany for Gardeners
Vinyl Tree Guard
& Garden Center
and Garden Tools
Bark Ringing explained on 1938 Wills
Garden Hints trading card #38