Winter trunk protection question.

canadianplantJanuary 31, 2013

Im just wondering about the importance of painting the trunks of my fruit trees in winter. From what I understand, the white paint reflects the low winter sunlight away, so they dont scald, heat up too much and burst from thaw and freeze cycles. Also, ive heard this is a preventative for pests as well.

My question is about when this is important. Should I be worried about this in the dead of winter, or late winter/mid spring when the temps go back and fourth?

Im asking because due to my narrow yard, the neighbors fence shades the bottom half of my trees for 2 or 3 months (end of nov - feb give or take). On top of that , we usually have 2 - 5 feet of snow during the winter which covers the bottoms.

I also havnt protected the trunks from gnawing pests during the winter either. Im assuming the hard white plastic covers do double duty and protect from sunscald as well?

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dmtaylor(5a (WI))

I believe sun scald and splitting is a problem whenever you have temperature swings from warm to cold. If the tree is tricked into thinking there is an early spring and sap begins to flow, and then there is a hard freeze, it can split the wood. The side of the trunk facing south to southwest is most commonly affected since the radiation of the sun hits more directly on that side.

On the other hand.... from what I can tell, this isn't really a problem with young trees. It stands to reason that thicker, older wood that traps more sap and absorbs more heat is far more likely to be affected.

In your case, if the lower half of your trees are constantly shaded and/or covered with snow, I doubt you will ever have any issues, even if your trees are old.

I believe the white plastic trunk covers will help shield from this sort of damage, but I've also heard that they can cause other problems, which in my view seems to arise from covering up canker and fireblight, or insect damage. Take the covers off after two or three years and you might have an unpleasant surprise.

For what it's worth, I have weighed whether to paint or apply covers to my young trees, and I decided against it. If I see problems, I'll reconsider. But at least for now, I figure it's not worth the trouble, and might even possibly cause harm.

No worries. I think your trees will be fine, given your conditions.

    Bookmark   January 31, 2013 at 10:39AM
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Thanks. Ill have to keep an eye on exactly where the sun is, but I can say that it isnt on the trunks all winter. Ill jsu tkeep an eye on them over the years

    Bookmark   January 31, 2013 at 3:28PM
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