[NAFEX] bark damage

mauch1 at aol.com mauch1 at aol.com
Mon Dec 5 13:23:27 EST 2005


<<I have bark damage on some young trees (apple and landscaping) done presumably by a buck rubbing his antlers.  None of the trees were completely girdled, but some lost lots of bark.  Should I be applying any specific tree dressings etc. to protect and save these trees (which were doing well otherwise).>> 
Preventing damage in the future:
When I was having this problem, I found two things that I 'think' worked.  Staking the trees and tying them to the stake, and using plastic spiral tree wraps.  Both seemed to break up the smoothline of bare trunk that the bucks seemed to like (and perhaps the tree wraps made a noise surprising to them.)  Now I can't vouch that these suggestions really work w/out a controlled test, but it seemed to work for me.  The tree wraps should also prevent/limit further damage from rabbits and voles.
 
Helping the damaged area:
Generally you don't want to do anything.  From what I've read and learned over the years, tree dressings are generally detrimental.  One you said none of the trees were completely girdled - are you sure you have a contiguous line of bark from the soil to above the damaged area?  Those that were damaged with a break in the contiguous line will be the ones that will need your most attention and are most likely to be lost.  
If the damage is recent, you can try wrapping the trunk temporarily with saran wrap.  This may save some cambium that is on the trunk, allowing it to regenerate.  But I wouldn't leave it on for more that a few weeks as I would be concerned about mold developing under the wrap.
You may want to fertilize them come spring and watch for drought conditions.  I would expect some reduction of growth for several years and it will take quite a while for thedamaged area to heal over. 
Chris Mauchline
SE PA, zone 6
40° 5' N 75° 51'W
~650 ft elevation
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