Winter Sunscald

I planted a few trees in my garden this fall and recently I’ve noticed that the bark has begun to split. Can you tell me what is causing this and how I can prevent it?

Splitting or peeling bark on young trees can be a symptom of sunscald caused by fluctuating winter temperatures or intense winter sunlight. Even on cold days the sun can heat up bark and warm the cells inside. When the sun goes down and the temperatures drop the cells freeze and burst. This condition is most often seen on the south and southwest sides of the trunks of newly planted trees.

Applying a tree wrap around the trunk from November to April for about two years is all that is needed to keep this problem from occurring. Just make sure the wrap is removed during the spring and summer to keep pests from congregating under it and feeding on the bark.

It is also a good idea to give a young tree some support with a cage or by guying it with wires. This keeps the wind from blowing it back and forth. The constant movement keeps the roots from properly establishing. Just make sure the wire is removed before the growing season so it doesn’t constrict the growth of the trunk.