It Could Have Been Prevented!
On my way to the bleachers I noticed that well more than half of the Shumard red oaks that had been planted there 8 or 10 years ago are now showing signs of extreme sunscald.
Here’s how I know…
• It always shows up on the west or southwest side first. (All of these did.)
• It shows up in the 3rd or 4th year after planting. (I wasn’t in this park then to watch them, but judging from the sizes of the trees, the timing is about right.)
• Vertical cracks appeared through the bark and extended completely into the internal wood of the trunk. (All of these did.)
• The bark began to curl and peel back from the trunks, exposing developing decay within the interior wood of the trunk. (All of these are.)
• Top growth on the west and southwest sides of the affected trees is dying back because of loss of conducting tissues on the west and southwest sides of the trunk. (That’s become apparent on these trees now.)
• As the decay gets worse, it’s likely that some of these trees will be lost. That’s the usual track of this damage. (It’s a few years too early to estimate the extent of that damage here.)
What will prevent this damage?
A simple paper tree wrap from the ground up to the bottom branches. There are special products made for this express purpose. Most are self-adhering so you won’t have to secure them with wires. They allow for room for trunk growth.
Leave the wrap in place for two full growing seasons. By then the tree’s canopy should have grown large enough to provide shade for the trunk.
What can be done for these trees now?
Unfortunately, not much other than giving them water so that they won’t dry out this summer. There is no point in wrapping them now. That horse is out of the barn.
Do not attempt to peel bark away when the tree is in this condition. Allow the tree to try to heal itself.
Basically. It’s just wait and see at this point.