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Fruit Tree Bark Peeling – Why And What To Do?

You may have heard that it is normal for tree bark to peel. However, if it happens to your fruit trees, you may have to take a closer look. So we researched the cause and what to do if it happens. 

Fruit tree bark can get damaged and begin to peel from the trunk due to a variety of illnesses and other conditions such as: 

  • Sun Scald
  • Phytophthora
  • Psorosis
  • Exocortis

Read on as we elaborate on how each of these diseases causes a fruit tree bark to peel and how to fix them. We'll also give tips to keep your fruit trees healthy. 

pear tree bark texture background. - Fruit Tree Bark Peeling - Why And What To Do?

How Does Sun Scald Affect Fruit Tree Bark?

The south and southwest sides of trees are commonly affected by sun scald, which typically occurs in late winter. Compared to other tree species, fruit trees have thinner bark, making them more prone to sun-scald.

Closeup of a sun scald damage on a tree trunk

The bright sun warms one side of the tree, weakening its ability to withstand cold temperatures and causing dormant cells. As nighttime temperatures decrease, these cells may freeze and die, resulting in late spring bark that has sunken and lost color.

Fruit trees that have suffered from sun-scald have cracked, scarred bark that peels off.

Trees with sunscald on their trunks may become stunted and produce less fruit than their unharmed counterparts.

What To Do To Treat Fruit Trees With Sun Scald?

Sunscald can be treated by avoiding it in the first place. Once the harm has been done, it cannot be undone.

Cutting away the dead bark until you reach the live layers is one way of repairing sun scald damage in trees. Once the tree is bigger or more established, wrap it. 

Fall is the ideal time to protect new plants from sunscald on trees. With commercial tree wrap strips, wrap the trunks loosely, looping the strip up the trunk to resemble an overlapping candy cane stripe.

Never attach the tree wrap's end with tape to the tree trunk. Unwrap the tree in the spring to allow for natural growth before rewrapping it in the fall.

In the past, some fruit growers painted young trees' trunks white to protect them.

Whitewashed trees among the green grass

What Is Phytophthora And How To Prevent It?

Fruit trees frequently experience crown rot and Phytophthora root rot. This disease thrives in wet, poorly-drained regions of the yard or orchard.

Root rot disease is caused by the fungus Phytophthora capsici.

Different tree species will exhibit different phytophthora symptoms, but some frequent ones include girdling of the trunk, slowed growth, yellowing of the leaves, and tree mortality.

Trees that are less susceptible to phytophthora, such as pears, are planted in regions with well-draining soil to prevent the disease.

To prevent or treat this, you can do the following: 

Infected Trees, Shrubs, and Plants Removal

Remove and properly dispose of the contaminated tree, shrub, or plant after you determine the infection.

Enhance Soil Drainage

Effective soil drainage is one of the best strategies to stop Phytophthora from growing. However, during lengthy wet seasons, standing water or saturation could be unavoidable.

Test The Soil

To ensure that your plants and trees are as healthy as possible, test your soil frequently to gauge its pH balance and identify the nutrients that are required. Your plants and trees will be less prone to opportunistic infections the healthier they are.

Apply Hydrogen Peroxide

You can eliminate pathogens and illnesses like Phytophthora from your soil by using a 3% solution of home hydrogen peroxide.

Apply a solution of 1 part peroxide to 3 parts water, and let it soak into the ground before you resume normal watering.

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Don't Mulch Or Compost

Never add any parts of an affected specimen that have been removed to compost piles or mulching systems since doing so will help the disease spread.

Reduce Weed Growth

It is well known that you can find harmful pathogens in weeds.  You should remove as much of the weed's roots as you can when removing it from damp (loose) soil.

To prevent spreading disease to other plants, dispose of the plucked weeds promptly and carefully.

Pest Control Management

The management of gardens and landscapes must include pest control. When dealing with illnesses like Phytophthora, the significance of this cannot be emphasized. In the same way, pests weaken plants and increase their susceptibility to disease.

In the event of an infestation, contact an arborist to assess the situation and decide on the best course of action. Apply the necessary insecticides for bug control.

What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Psorosis On Fruit Trees?

The most typical sign of psorosis is the scaling and peeling of the bark. Small bubbles on the bark that slowly enlarge and burst to form loose scales are among the early signs.

A willow tree on a golf course in New Jersey has a severe split of it's bark with partial separation.

Later on, the bark becomes saturated with gum and dies. An aged piece of budwood or infected grafting equipment might spread the psorosis virus.

So how do you prevent the disease from spreading?

The usage of disease-free budwood aids in limiting the spread of the illness. Scraping infected bark from elder trees with psorosis symptoms aids in promoting a wound callus and short-term recovery.

A psorosis-infected tree is less productive, hence it is advised to replace it.

What Is Exocortis And What To Do If Your Fruit Tree Is Infected?

Exocortis destroys tree bark, causing it to dry up, fracture, and peel off in thin strips. Gum droplets also develop underneath the loose bark. Due to new regulations keeping the budwood free of disease, older plantings are where it is most prevalent.

Fruit trees infected with this viroid grow slowly and produce fewer fruit, yet they seldom perish.

Exocortis cannot be cured and spreads easily. Despite this, your tree won't likely perish. It will decrease output and leave your tree more vulnerable to other insect and disease issues.

The best course of action is to remove the diseased tree, even if only to safeguard nearby trees unless you are prepared to commit to the thorough cleanliness of shoes, tools, and anything else that might come into touch with it.

Why Is Cleaning Pruning And Cutting Tools Important When Dealing With Infected Fruit Trees?

gardener pruning trees with pruning shears on nature background.

Plant diseases that can harm plants are brought on by pathogens including bacteria, fungus, and viruses. Through soil and plant detritus, such as roots trapped on a shovel, tree sap on a pruner blade, or soil left on a pot, they can spread to and infect plants.

It can be simple to see what needs cleaning in some cases. However, pathogens are minute, so even if your instruments appear spotless, they could still have harmful microbes on your blade or tomato cage.

By carefully cleaning and disinfecting your tools, equipment, and gardening implements, you can stop the spread of disease between plants.

What Are The Practices You Must Do To Keep Your Fruit Trees Healthy?

full tree of mediterranean oranges grown in a grassy meadow

When fruit trees are young, careful care will prevent issues as they mature, but even with the use of fundamental gardening techniques, it is still possible to overlook a few procedures.

Therefore, we have listed tips you can follow to keep your trees in good condition:

For Fruit Trees Below 2 Years Old

  • Use a well-established planting location that has undergone previous work. Ensure that no illnesses were present in the crops that were previously planted that might impact future fruit trees. 
  • On the lack of a suitable planting location, plant in raised beds.
  • It's crucial to water carefully to remove any air pockets from the soil to aid in the correct establishment of newly planted fruit trees. Therefore, use a moisture meter to monitor the amount of water the fruit trees are receiving.

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  • Make sure to place the root near the top 2 inches below the surface of the ground. After completing this, start pruning the young fruit tree. Cut off the fruit tree's top at about 3 feet in height.

To Keep Pests Away 

  • It's crucial to take precautions while using pesticides to ensure that the chemical substance stays on the desired target. Low wind speeds are best for spraying pesticides because they will cause less chemical drift. The ideal times are in the morning and evening. 
  • Make sure the area is well-ventilated or perform the pesticide mixing or dilution outside. Never combine more than what is required for a given application.
  • Fruit tree trunks are protected from rodent damage by plastic spiral mouse guards. If they aren't taken out in the summer, though, they might soon turn into a haven for insects that eat tree trunks.
  • Natural enemies of insects can lessen the damage they do to plants. These adversaries are moreover known as biological controllers.

In Closing

As mentioned above, Sun Scald, Phytophthora, Psorosis, and Exocortis are some diseases that might cause the peeling of your tree fruit bark. 

If your fruit tree is already infested by the said diseases, you must carefully diagnose it. But if the damage is severe, then replacing your tree should be your last resort.

Before leaving, you can check out these other articles on this page: 

15 Fruit Trees You Can Grow In Pots at Home

How To Overwinter Lemon Trees