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How to prevent sun scald.

Winter Wrap your trees to protect your investment!

By Chris Leinster - October 8, 2018

Young trees are susceptible to sun scald over the winter months when trees have lost their shading leaves and when the sun strikes at a low angle. This is exacerbated when freezing temperatures and dry air sucks the moisture out of the bark. Until trees develop a thick, corky, protective outer bark, they can get sunburned just like you and me. Sunlight can skip off snow covered ground magnifying the intensity of the sun’s rays. Sun scald dries out the trunk, splitting the bark and potentially kills the trees if left unchecked.

Fortunately, sun scald is easily preventable with a simple and inexpensive task that any homeowner can effortlessly perform. Please winter wrap your young trees to shield the vulnerable trunks from desiccating winter sun. Tree wrap is simply a weather resistant paper tape that you wrap around the trees to cover the bark. You can buy tree wrap at most big box stores or at your favorite local garden center.

Start at the ground level and wrap the trunks up to where the branching starts. You can secure the tree wrap with duct tape or electrical tape. Wrap snuggly to prevent sagging, and make sure to overlap each course as you spiral up the tree. Remove the wrap when leaves emerge in the spring. This is one of the simplest chores you can perform to protect your investment.

Other winter considerations:
Nature knows trees and all plants need moisture in the ground as they settle in for their winter slumber, and this year rains arrived just in time. Roots will continue to store nutrients even after the leaves have fallen, so if the rain stops and the ground dries up please drag out the hoses and give the trees a drink. This is usually not necessary, but we don’t want the ground to freeze with the soil bone dry. Be aware of the weather and water only if necessary.

Heavy snow loads can snap branches or bend trunks of young trees over to the ground. Trees are particularly vulnerable if early snows strike before the leaves have fallen, or with late spring snows after leaves have emerged. Throw on the snow boots and gently shake the snow off your young trees during heavy storms if snow accumulates on the branches and twigs.

Now is actually a great time for planting and fall-dug trees are arriving weekly. We keep the crews running though mid-December so please share this article if you think your friends would find this advice helpful.