One common ailment affecting trees during the winter months is what we refer to as sunscald – the freezing of bark following warmer temperatures which results in visible damage to the tree. Sunscald typically affects young trees with thin bark such as locusts, fruit trees, ashes, oaks, maples, lindens, and willows.
There are several factors that create ideal conditions for sunscald:
- Temperature Fluctuations: When temperatures begin to drop below freezing, trees start to go dormant; however, with weather fluctuations, the trees can be reactivated by temperatures that reach above freezing or by the warmth of the sun on a sunny day. When the temperature drops after sundown, water within the tree has the potential to freeze. This makes the water supply within the trunk more likely to expand and retract with fluctuations in temperature, creating damage within the tree.
- Loss of Leaves: When trees lose their leaves, they lose the ability to shade the trunk from the sun. This increased sun exposure can become problematic as the natural elements become more intense through the winter months.
- Position of the Sun: During winter months, the sun is positioned lower in the sky than at other points in the year. During the day, the sun warms the trees and some may become reactivated. Once the tree’s cells are active, they are unable to return to a dormant state by nightfall.
The effected tissue on a tree may become sunken, discolored, cracked, and wounded leaving behind noticeable scar tissue and fissures. Once a tree has been wounded by sunscald, the damage can lead to increased chances of future diseases and/or the harboring of insects that can potentially infest the open wound and kill the tree.
Be Proactive and Avoid Sunscald on Your Trees:
The good news is that sunscald can be avoided by reducing the chances of direct exposure to intense sunlight. This can be achieved by using appropriate materials to wrap the tree trunk from the soil to the start of the first branches. Our team is here to help you keep your trees safe through the winter – just give us a call at (785) 289-5892 and we’ll handle the rest!