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Sunscald injury to the lower trunk occurs on the southwest side of trees or in and on older upward facing branches in winter. It occurs when the sun heats up the bark after it has begun to slip. A rapid drop in temperature produces a contraction of the bark, causing it to separate from the tree. These wounds are slow to heal and provide an entrance for insects and diseases.

Sunscald injury to trunk (Strang, UKY)
Sunscald injury to trunk.

(Photo: John Strang, University of Kentucky)

Sunscald injury to upper branch surface (Gauthier, UKY)
Sunscald injury to upper branch surface.

(Photo: Nicole Ward Gauthier, University of Kentucky)



  • Protect young tree trunks with white plastic wrap around tree guards or apply a white indoor paint late in fall
  • Retain some leaf cover over older limbs when pruning and/or paint the tops of horizontal exposed limbs with indoor latex paint


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