Now that autumn is here, anyone who has young fruit trees should be prepared to take good care of their trees for winter. Young trees have thin bark and thus can be damaged from southwest winter injury, rabbits or mice during our winter season. As fruit trees age, their bark at the base of the trunk becomes much thicker & less prone to damage. A little prevention now will result in a much healthier tree come spring!
Southwest winter injury usually occurs on thin barked young fruit trees or even fruit trees of any age that have a light bark color. On cold winter days when temperatures are below zero, rays from the setting sun really warm up the bark on the southwest side of the tree. As the sun sets below the horizon, the bark cools off very quickly. It is this rapid cooling of the bark tissue that causes the cells in the bark to rupture. The damage will show up the following spring as peeling or blistering bark along the southwest side of the trunk.
Applying a plastic spiral tree guard or even paper tree wrap to the trunk late in Fall will help prevent southwest winter injury & will also give some protection against trunk girdling by hungry rabbits/mice during the winter. Be sure to remove the guard when spring arrives!
I also like to fence in young fruit trees with chicken wire for the winter to keep hungry rabbits away! Always keep an eye on snow depth during the winter. If the snow gets higher than your fence, remove some of the snow or the rabbits will be able to walk on top of the snowdrifts & chew on the branches! I usually just run my snowblower around the fence if the snow gets too deep.