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Dallas Morning News - January 18, 2018


Tree Trunk Goop

Summer sunscald happens on trees when bark gets too hot. This happens on young tree trunks or young branches of older trees. Bark gets so hot that cells die. Winter sunscald happens in colder weather when the warm sun heats up the bark during the day, followed by a sudden drop to low temperatures at night. Rapid temperature changes cause damage to cells in the bark. Both types of sunscald cause lesions or breaks in the bark. Over time these can open up into large damaged areas that attract insect pests and diseases. This damage to bark tissue happens primarily on week trees.

Some arborists and horticulturists recommend protecting young tree trunks, (especially red oaks) with paper or tape wraps. These wraps are supposed to protect trees from physical injury, frost cracking and sunscald, borer and other insect attacks and from dying out. It’s bad advice.

Research indicates that tree wraps hurt trees rather than protect them. Paper wraps hold in moisture and provide protection for diseases, insects and other injury. Severe temperature changes have been found to occur beneath the wraps. Most competent arborists and horticulturist agree with this and don’t use this destructive and money wasting procedure of wrapping.

There are a number of materials that have been used to wrap trunks. They are all bad. Home gardeners have made some of their own wraps out of various materials such as burlap or duct tape. These materials can also caused harm to trees by damaging bark and cambium layers, restricting growth and/or girdling trunks.

If tree trunk protection is needed against sunscald on thin-barked trees, such as ash, birch, linden, red oak or maple, there is a much better way to go. Painting or white washing trunks is much better than trunk wrap. White latex paint diluted with water to about a 50 – 50 mix works well. Doing this same process with paint about the color of the trunk also works as well and definitely looks better. This university tested and approved method is effective at repelling insect pests as well as preventing sunburn.

There’s one situation where wrapping trunks might make sense. If the trunk of a tree has been severely physically damaged, painting the injured area with Tree Trunk Goop formula and then wrapping the damaged area with burlap soaked in Tree Trunk Goop will help the tree’s wounds heal much faster. The burlap helps hold the material in place as it protects and feeds the tree. Tree Trunk Goop can also be used in lieu of the whitewashing as a preventative but would be more expensive.

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