Back in early December 2013, I was horrified to find significant bark damage on two out of six of my new fruit trees. I had only just planted the trees in February 2013 and I wondered if the trees would survive.
The damage was likely caused by rabbits or other animals that chew off the bark to access the sugars that flow in the sap layer. If the bark is eaten all the way around the trunk, the tree will not be able to feed itself and will die. This is called girdling. Luckily, the bark damage is primarily on one side, so there's a chance the tree will live if I can keep the critters away.
There are a number of products to protect the bark of young trees. I decided on a temporary, breathable, synthetic fiber wrap. This tree wrap was on sale in the off season at Lowe's for 50 cents a roll and was just what I was looking for.
Each of my 6 fruits tree where wrapped with the breathable fabric. I secured the fabric with blue painters tape, so I could easily unwrap the fabric on check on the trees. I was a little nervous about the fabric becoming wet and causing rot, but those fears where unfounded due to either the quick drying nature of the product or the extremely dry winter.
I recently unwrapped the most heavily damaged tree to check the progress of the healing. Everything seems to be going as well as could be expected considering almost half the trunk is eaten away.
The trees are all in bloom now, so I'll take that as a sign that all is well. I'm growing Anna and Ein Shemer varieties of apples. Interestingly, these two trees did not lose their leaves even in this cold year and they started flowering at the end of January.
The two peach varieties I selected are June Gold (pictured below) and La Feliciana.
The two plum varieties I selected are Santa Rosa (pictured below) and Methley.
You can bet I'll be watching these trees closely with this latest deep freeze last night. It was 22 degrees in my garden and the trees were all in full bloom. I'll be waiting anxiously to see what happens with fruiting.