A young tree in yard has developed what I believe to be frost crack and the...

Asked May 9, 2014, 6:35 PM EDT

A young tree in yard has developed what I believe to be frost crack and the bark has pulled away from the trunk . The damage appears extensive. Should I wrap tree trunk ,with what, and how? Thank you for any help you can offer.

Macon County Tennessee

1 Response

Do not wrap it or seal it with anything. Studies have shown that this just holds in moisture and other things that cause more trouble. You might want to wrap it with a ventilated tree wrap next winter to protect it from more damage, but you will need to take it off in the spring. Some varieties of trees are very susceptible to frost cracks and do just fine with quite scary looking damage. It is difficult to say whether your tree has been damaged enough to warrant replacing it and starting again.

The bark protects a layer called the cambium. It is the green stuff right under the bark and its job is to move nutrients from the roots to the leaves and back down. Because of this, a horizontal cut (like from a string trimmer or animal damage) is much more serious than a vertical cut. Although vertical cuts like frost cracks look really bad, they affect a small portion of the cambium and so are much less damaging to the tree. Of course, the frost crack allows bugs and other things access to the tree, but if left alone the tree will form what is basically scar tissue and be just fine.

The following link from the University of Tennessee Extension explains a little more about trunk splitting and what you can do about it:

Good luck!