Why are some of the branches on my apple tree dying?
I have a 3-year-old semi-dwarf Honeycrisp apple tree that has grown quite well thus far. However, earlier this spring/summer I noticed damage to the lower trunk on the southwest side of the tree that goes up approximately 24 inches. Any branches that branch off from the trunk within this damaged area are dead as well. The rest of the tree is growing well and has put on some decent growth this year. I have included two images of the damage I am referring to. Can you help me identify the issue?
Does the side of the tree that is damaged happen to be the south side of the tree?
It looks like classic winter damage from the sun warming that side of the tree, followed by hard freezing which kills the tissue facing the sun. It can be prevented by protecting the lower trunk with plastic tree guards, or by painting the trunk with white latex paint to reflect the heat and reduce the heating the trunk experiences.
The tree will probably survive, and in a few years it will repair itself.