[NAFEX] Bark Damage

O'Barr, R. D. topgun at otelco.net
Mon Dec 5 17:59:58 EST 2005

I agree mostly with the premise of not painting the tree's wounded area, and
I have heard the author's lecture and read his book. This is true for limbs
that are cut off. But for a loss of bark and not a limb, I like to use a
little non-toxic latex paint to retard borers from egg laying. Of course if
you are spraying at that time with an insecticide then there should be no
One would not readily come to the conclusion that bark wounding would slow
down substantially the next season's growth. However, I have observed an
orchard of young pecan trees that were severely damaged by hail and they
grew very little for the next several years.
Zone 7
----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Heron Breen" <breen at fedcoseeds.com>
To: "North American Fruit Explorers" <nafex at lists.ibiblio.org>
Sent: Monday, December 05, 2005 3:27 PM
Subject: [NAFEX] Bark Damage

> Hi,
> Here are some best practice methods to deal with girdling.
> Not are girds are down to the actual xylem, ie through the cambium, or
even the
> phloem. The inner bark as is commonly known is actual the phloem, and this
is the
> tastiest parts that rodentia etc like best. If the cambium remains intact,
> easily can, it will draw sugars from parenchyma cells inside the xylem
(wood) and
> rebuild the phloem pathways that have been destroyed. Phloem "flows down"
is a
> key phrase to remember with tree physiology. Some species of trees can
> phloem damage, some cannot. Malus does okay, while Prunus are more dicey,
> depending on all the factors touched on below. Applying a clay slurry to
> affected areas within 24-48 hours of damage will keep the cambium from
> "sun-damage". Apply repeatedly over the course of a month on the opened
areas as
> rain washes it off, or as heat cracks it. We're not talking glop, more of
a thick
> basting.
> Scribing is way of cleaning up a wound site so that even cambial growth
will not
> cause more bark splitting or decay and to reduce "ram's-horns" which are
> growths of in-curved cambium. Ram's-horns are not bad persay but one
should try
> scribing if they feel confident they know what they are doing. Since a
> search will probably result in a pictorial description, interested parties
> see before doing. Scibing can help reduce suckering from the sides and
bottom of
> the wound, which is the worst case scenario. If suckers result, you will
be in a
> no-win battle with the tree's metabolism. If it is a young tree, you would
> probably do best to remove and replace it. Older tree, do not cut the
> back for at least three years. Many of them will die on their own. Let
them get
> woody and then do not flush cut. Cutting suckers back every year gets old
> just encourages more. You may have to live with some.
> Do not fertilize the tree at any point until the wound has been dealt with
by the
> tree, say another year. Fertilization next spring would be one of the
> actions to take. The tree will, if as you report the tree has remaining
> phloem and cambium, most likely survive. You may get a better risk
assessment if
> you would report what percentage of the tree's perimeter, and how high up
> width iseach tree is girded. The trees, if they survive the freezing and
> of winter, will compartmentalize the wound, and are probably doing just
that as
> we speak. This means creating internal barriers against infection and
> defect. The exposed wood make look cracked by next spring, but do not use
this to
> surmise the tree is mortally wounded.
> What counts a lot is in what state was the tree when it was injured. Was
> well-rooted, with adequate (and not too much) moisture? Lots of
competition from
> sod? Over-fertilized? On a dwarfing (read strangling) rootstock? Keep all
of its
> leave area for the whole season? Not just recieve vigorous pruning? The
> reason at this point that I would be concerned is that your tree was
injured in
> the Fall, the time of year when a tree has the least ability to
> the wound. Normally, all sugars and waters stored would be sucked out of
> xylem layers already present and used to push growth and healing next
spring. All
> this before the barrier is laid down completely. Your tree will close off
> those years of layers forever, most likely, and be reliant on the vascular
> structure it newly forms next year. This is why drought is deadly, or
> growth, and why symptoms of drought can be evident even when it is a
> lush spring/summer. The vascular structure has recieved a major set-back,
> your tree will have to struggle to compensate.
> Bridging the damaged area with grafts next spring may be another option,
> vertical vascular pathways. But if the tree has adequate cambium remaining
> not too much perimeter to cover, it may be best to leave the area
> This type of descision can only be made by visual observation, and even
then is
> somewhat of a 6 of one, half-dozen of the other, depending on the wound.
> Not that any of this info ensures the survival of your tree, but some may
> you not be the reason for its death, rather than the animal and other
> If your trees survive it will take 3-4 years before the vascular system is
> balanced, or it may be forever trying to compensate for abrupt dynamic
> Some of this depends on cultivar, weather, future damage, the tree owner,
> luck or its opposite:fate.
> Good Luck,
> Heron Breen
> zone 4, Maine
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