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Winter Tree Care Tips: Protecting Your Young Trees from Sunscald

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Sunlight is necessary for young trees to grow and develop. However, too much of it at the wrong time can cause sunscald, which can be equated to sunburns in human beings. Tree sunscald usually occurs to young and developing trees, usually during the fall and late winter when the temperatures change rapidly during the day and night. Sunscald can cause tree tissues to decay, and if it is not addressed, you may be forced to remove the tree entirely before it falls. It is essential to understand the causes of sunscald and the prevention measures that you can take to protect your trees from it.

What is sunscald?

Trees rely on the change in weather and temperature to determine the seasons. They retreat into a dormant state during the fall and winter when the temperatures are quite low. However, the sun comes up during certain winter days, and this causes the tree's barks to warm up. The tissues become active and begin to prepare for spring. However, as night falls, the temperatures drop rapidly, and the active cells, being unprepared for the sudden fluctuations, die. Once the tree tissues die, they make it difficult for the rest of the tree to obtain water and nutrients, and this causes sunscald in the form of a large scar on the tree.

Which are the signs of sunscald in trees?

The signs of sunscald may not be visible until the next warm season when the tree's tissues begin to grow again. Some of the common signs include the following:

  • A large dark scar or patch on the bark of the tree.
  • The breaking off or cracking of a portion of the bark.
  • Insect or pest infestation.

Poor selection of tree species for a particular climate can increase the chances of sunscald in trees. Some trees are not very adaptable to certain climates, and this can cause them to suffer from sunscald even during the warm season.

How can you prevent sunscald?

Once a tree suffers from sunscald, it is impossible to reverse the effects. However, there are a few measures that you can take to protect it from the effects of rapid weather changes. They include the following:

  • Proper selection of tree species: Before planting a tree in your home, ensure that it is adaptable to the climate in the area. A tree specialist can help you identify native trees which are resilient to the weather conditions in your area.
  • Sun blocking: You can protect your tree from exposure to the sun during winter by covering it with tree wrap strips. Do this on young trees during the fall and remove the strips during spring to allow the trees to grow naturally.

Protect your young trees from sunscald by following the above measures. You can also have a tree specialist inspect the trees regularly for any signs that may indicate susceptibility to sunscald.