Missourians are all too familiar with the changing weather patterns. It can be 0°F one day and 70°F the next. These fluctuating temperatures can be especially hard on trees. Here you’ll find some reasons to winterize and tips to give your trees the best chance at survival this winter.
Why is winterizing trees important?
Early cold snaps can damage tree tissue that has not yet hardened off – or become acclimated to cold temperatures.
Cold, dry winds can dry out and “burn” conifer needles and evergreen foliage.
Trees are unable to absorb water from frozen soil to replace the moisture lost through evaporation and transpiration.
Mid-winter warming spells can entice trees into breaking dormancy too soon, leaving them vulnerable during the next cold period.
Alternating freezing and thawing cycles can heave young trees out of the ground, leaving the roots exposed to the sun and wind.
Bright winter sun can warm and thaw bark, which can then freeze and crack when the temperature drops rapidly.
When food sources become scarce, your trees can become a meal for hungry deer, rabbits, mice and more. They will gnaw on bark, buds and twigs that are within their reach.
Preparing for winter:
Before cold weather sets in, here are some things you can do to help your trees go through winter and into spring happy and healthy.
Stop fertilizing six weeks before the first frost to allow trees time to harden off.
If natural moisture is in short supply, continue to water thoroughly, especially young trees, until the ground freezes. A key factor for young trees surviving winter is adequate moisture before freezing temperatures set in.
Pruning a tree is best done when it’s actively growing. Pruning can stimulate new growth that’s especially vulnerable to the cold, or bleed sap when pruned during late winter. However, it’s important to remove visibly damaged and dead wood and to prune branches that are susceptible to becoming weighed down with rain, ice, and snow, causing them to break or touch the ground. Foliage and branches that touch the ground can be an invitation to pests.
Wrapping the trunks of young trees protects them from wildlife chewing, sun scald, and frost cracks.
Consult with a professional arborist from Hentges Tree Service if you have any questions or concerns about tree health. Hentges Tree Service wants to help you keep your trees strong and healthy all year long!
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