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Trees leafing low on the trunk.

Posted by manoaction none (My Page) on
Tue, May 28, 13 at 14:53

Last year I planted fruit trees from Stark Bros and they did ok all last year.

This spring we had a warm snap and then some heavy snow and frost in the first week of May.

The whole area has been delayed with getting leaves on bushes, but half of my young fruit trees only sprouted leaves on the bottom 1/3 of the trunk.

I had loose black plastic pipe casing the trunks to stop the rabbits, and I think it acted as a heat blanket to keep them from being as badly affected by the frost.

Should I let the trees try to grow back from these lower sprouts or replant? Are the couple that have nothing sprouted at all completely dead?

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Trees leafing low on the trunk.

  • Posted by fruitnut z7b-8a,4500ft SW TX (My Page) on
    Tue, May 28, 13 at 17:38


Sorry to hear of these issues. The trees with sprouts above the graft union can be regrown from those sprouts faster than by replanting. If there are no sprouts the tree is probably dead.

My bigger concern would be what's going on here? Is there something about your rabbit guards that is damaging the trees? Were other peoples trees affected? What is your zone and how cold did it get?

RE: Trees leafing low on the trunk.

Hey I really appreciate the reply.

The rabbit guard was probably the only thing that saved them. I believe it acted as insulation which is why the trees only wanted to sprout beneath coverage of the loose (3" diameter) black pipe.

I think they started to wake up and bud out in early April when they got blasted by the freeze in May. We're in Fort Collins and it's been a frustrating Spring. All the trees on my place had a very late and very anemic start to the year.

Stark Bros sent me some new trees to plant in the first week of April and they've been a no show as well. Should I give up hope on those?

RE: Trees leafing low on the trunk.

  • Posted by fruitnut z7b-8a,4500ft SW TX (My Page) on
    Tue, May 28, 13 at 18:29


Yes, it's been a brutal year all up and down the front range of the Rockies. I've got dead and badly injured trees as well.

Trees planted in early April that haven't grown are likely dead. Hopefully next year will be better.

RE: Trees leafing low on the trunk.

I have the same problem with my Pink Lady apple. I have had to take a serious look at how hardy the tree is and whether or not I want this to happen again.

It would help if you told us what kind of trees and what rootstocks they are on. Pink Lady is supposed to be hardy to zone 5 but I fear it is not. It may be wiser to get hardier trees. I know this last spring was "bi-polar" and that we've never had a spring like it in my lifetime, but that doesn't mean we won't again.

RE: Trees leafing low on the trunk.

I would not give up on the April planted trees yet. My Stark trees took a while to come out of Dormancy. Also, I am a Stark fan and can not believe that they sent you dead trees.

This post was edited by daemon2525 on Wed, May 29, 13 at 10:00

RE: Trees leafing low on the trunk.

I'm not saying they sent me dead trees, I'm just saying they didn't make it through the winter probably due in part to my low skill level.

I started snipping down the trunk until I hit green. A few were dead through and through, the rest were moist about a foot up off the ground. The new shoots from the lower part of the trunk are growing well and I think I'm just going to grow back from there rather than buy new trees and wait another year for them to get here.

RE: Trees leafing low on the trunk.

It may have been the black plastic that actually exacerbated the problem. Generally white paint or anything that reflects the heat is preferred. If the black plastic heated up the trees enough to get the sap flowing, and then the temps fell, it would cause the sap to expand and break open the bark. (This is called Southwest disease, I believe)

You have not mentioned yet what kind of trees you are having problems with.

Also, it is not uncommon for a newly planted tree to take a long time to break dormancy. I have a couple that I bought at Costco on a whim and they are just now breaking dormancy. Don't give up on the newly planted trees yet.

With regard to the older trees that were damaged, unless there is growth above the graft you should probably replace them. If the new growth is above the graft then the tree should rebound fairly well. Choose one of the new sprouts and begin to train it straight up and remove the others. By fall the trees should be able to replace the growth and you won't be out much time.

RE: Trees leafing low on the trunk.

Thanks MileHighGirl, that sounds like really good advice especially about the pipe possibly being part of the problem.

The trees are a mix of fruit trees. Two apples, two cherries, two peaches, and one plum.

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