Splitting cherry tree

Asked July 25, 2016, 9:40 AM EDT

We have three cherry trees in our front yard and after a mild winter the bark has started splitting on one tree this spring/summer. Sap is oozing in some area. There was some deer rubbing on the trunk this winter. And the tree is about 4 yrs old. I added some organic fertilizer in the early spring. Any suggestions on cause and best way to treat?

Green County Wisconsin

2 Responses

Your description is fairly typical of the effects caused by buck rubbing damage on fruit trees. The undamaged side will compensate somewhat for the damaged side. Depending on the severity of the buck damage--in the coming years the tree may put its energy / growth into lower side limbs that are already present or may emerge below the damaged trunk.

If the top of the tree above the damaged area starts to decline next year, it may be necessary to cut this top off and use a strong side limb as the new top. This will result in a lopsided tree.

There is not much you can do at this point except wait to see how the tree compensates for the damage. In spring 2017 you can evaluate how the existing top is doing and what pruning may be needed, as described above.

Thank you for the advice and what we should be looking for in the coming years. This is very reassuring. (I know our WI cherries won't compare to those we might get in Traverse City (smile), but we'll try.)