I’ve Warned You Once…

I’ve warned you … make that 10,000 times … that if you don’t protect trees with thin barks from the ravages of sun that they will suffer mightily.

Here’s the sequence:
You buy a tree that appears to be completely healthy and vigorous.
You plant it carefully at the right depth, and you may even stake and guy it to keep it bolt-upright.
You water it properly every 2-3 days during its first couple of summers, and you apply the same amount of water as the container from which it was transplanted. Example: a tree from a 20-gallon pot gets 20 gallons of water every 2-3 days from May through October.

This poor Shumard red oak has been in e-gardens before. It’s in Gabe Nesbitt Park where I walk past it when we go to watch grandson Nolan play baseball. The damage has gotten much worse over the past couple of years, although the tree is trying valiantly to heal itself. The top growth on the far side is doing OK. If only the prior park crew responsible for its upkeep had known to protect it things would have been fine. Only time will tell now. The same goes for probably 20 other trees in the park. Click on image for larger view.

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But you forget to wrap its trunk with paper or plastic tree wrap from the ground up to the lowest tree limb.
If the tree is a Shumard red oak, Chinquapin oak, or Chinese pistachio (or other thin-barked shade tree), there isn’t enough protection from the hot west or southwest sun.
The tree that was shaded by other trees in the nursery suddenly is thrust into the summer sun for the first time.

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After 2 or 3 years vertical cracks start to appear in the trunk.
The cracks get deeper and deeper and internal wood starts to appear.
Decay may begin as the cracks hold water and debris.
Wood of the trunk starts to split away from the rest of the trunk.
The affected side of the tree begins to show signs of distress. Limbs may die back.
The tree may break or fall. At a minimum it will become deformed. All because it was not protected for its first couple of years with an inexpensive roll of tree wrap.

Posted by Neil Sperry
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