Knowledgebase

Apple tree damage #816860

Asked November 23, 2022, 2:01 PM EST

Good afternoon! We planted an apple tree in our yard a few years ago. A few days ago I noticed an animal (probably rabbit) has chewed the bark off the tree all around the base, and probably 10 inches up the tree. I've read a few different things about this (tree girdling) and was hoping to get some expert advice. Would a tree paint help in this situation? I read that wrapping plastic around the tree to allow sunlight and retain some humidity might encourage the bark to regrow if the cambium ring wasn't damaged. Is that something you'd recommend? Is there anything else I can do to save the tree? Thank you for any information you can provide! Brent

Faribault County Minnesota

Expert Response

Sorry, but I am afraid the tree is not going to survive because the cambium layer, which is right under the bark, has been totally compromised. I suggest that next spring you replace it.

It is important to protect young trees against winter rodent damage.  I see you have fencing around the tree, but to 
keep out rabbits, voles, or mice you need fencing with a tighter mesh. Here is a good article from the U on protecting young trees.

Protecting trees and shrubs in winter | UMN Extension

There is a technique called Bridge Grafting that is used to attempt to save trees with severe damage like you have. Since you have been researching your situation, you might find it interesting and maybe you want to experiment. However, as the WVU article points out, it works better on older trees plus the wound is very extensive.

Bridge Grafting – Saving Tree Life Despite the Odds | Extension | West Virginia University (wvu.edu)
Paul Wood Replied November 24, 2022, 8:19 AM EST

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