Prevent Sun Scald and Frost Crack on Your Trees

Prevent Sun Scald and Frost Crack on Your Trees

Warm sunny weather can be a great break for us during our cold winters, but it can play havoc on your dormant trees.

Sun Scald and Frost Crack are two problems you probably won't see evidence of until spring. Direct sunlight and fluctuating winter temperatures are to blame for both of these unsightly damages—and they can be (and need to be) prevented right now!


Sun Scald

Sun Scald is caused by mild day time temperatures and direct sunlight warming the tree bark enough that some cells "wake up" out of dormancy and become active.

They are tricked into thinking it's spring and are not triggered to return to dormancy by the time the sun sets. The much colder night time temperatures kills these active cells, resulting in dead patches of the tree's trunk.


Frost Crack

Frost Crack is similarly cause by the tree warming during mild and sunny days. When night falls however, the water inside the different layers of the tree can contract at different rates, and when the temperature change is rapid, cracks will form.In spring, the tree will try to heal the damage, but in the winter the tree can re-crack again in the same location. Repeated, healing and cracking forms "frost ribs" on the tree.

While the tree its self can survive sun scald and frost crack damage, they are unsightly and provide a great opportunity for diseases and insects to attack the weaken tree.


The solution to both is to cover the trunk with tree wrap to prevent direct sunlight on the tree, allowing the tree to have more even and gradual temperature changes. Just make sure to remove the wrap in spring or you can girdle your growing tree!