December 2017: Caring For Ice Damaged Trees – Part 6

Winters in Benton City can be hit or miss. This year along, we’ve seen temperatures in December ranging from the low 50 degrees to the high teens. In the seasons we have the bitter cold temps couple with snow, you’ll want to understand how these temperatures can affect trees and potential damage from ice.

Repairing Damaged Bark
During ice storms, broken limbs often tear and strip bark. It is important to repair torn bark to avoid the spread of disease and the invasion of insects; it will also improve the tree’s appearance. Use a chisel or sharp knife to smooth ragged edges of the dead bark.

Remove all loose bark to the point where it is firmly attached to the tree. Shape the wound into an ellipse. The rounded ends prevent dieback of the cambium.  Keep the wound as narrow and small as possible to help the tree heal as quickly as possible.

The tops of young conifers are often bent or broken off during ice storms. Corrective pruning can be used for individual trees and in conifer plantations. Corrective pruning in plantations will reduce the negative impact of the broken tops on future timber value. Cut the broken or bent tops just above the first live whorl. This will encourage a branch in the top whorl to become the new leader. Find the best branch and gently bend it upwards. Using a biodegradable rag (i.e., cotton, linen) attach the branch to a pole that is tied to the tree’s trunk. This should straighten the branch and encourage it to become the new leader. In plantations, prune approximately 500 trees per hectare and try to space the pruned trees throughout the plantation.

Severely damaged conifer plantations that are over 15 years old may require cleanup. If the plantation has trees more than 15 centimeters in diameter, you may want to salvage any wood that can be sold. A professional should be called for advice as soon as possible to avoid a decrease in the quality of wood.

When you’re looking for tree maintenance and tree care in Benton City, we should be your first choice. We are some of the only certified arborists in town and we are very good at what we do. Let us explain to you why we’re your best bet to take care of your trees.

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