Prevent Winter Damage

Conifers

In the winter months the needles photosynthesize and therefore release water. This water can not be replaced, because the ground and roots are frozen. One way to prevent this is to water the trees until freeze up, so that they can store more water in the needles. You could also spray the trees with an antitranspirant (e.g. Wilt Pruf), which prevents the loss of water from the stomata in the needles in the winter. Only fertilize with a 30-10-10 fertilizer mix (e.g. RX-30) first thing in the spring and no later than the end of May. In the fall you could also make a burlap fence around the tree to prevent the sun from causing the needles to photosynthesize. Do not wrap the tree tightly with the burlap, as it may promote fungal activity.

Apples

To prevent sun scald one can paint the main trunk of the tree with white latex paint, or white wash. This reflects the sun’s rays which cause the bark to expand and contract, therefore cracking. These cracks can then allow the entry of fungi, which lead to more serious problems. These trees should also be fertilized only first thing in the spring, with 11-55-0 or 10-48-0 or fruit tree fertilizer. Let the tree dry off from the end of August to September, and then after the leaves drop water the tree thoroughly.

If mice, rabbits, or deer are a problem, in late October one can spray the tree with a repellent. A home recipe is one cup of diesel fuel in one gallon of sour milk. In the spring all of the dead wood should be pruned out of the tree, as well as any branches which cross over. When pruning the tools should be dipped in a solution of one part bleach to nine parts water after each cut. This prevents the spread of fungal and bacterial diseases.

By Dr. Paton and Vicki East