The Bark Is Splitting On My Methley Plum Tree

Filed Under: Fruit Trees, Diseases and Fungus · Keywords: Bark, Splitting, Splits, Methley, Plum, Tree · 911 Views
The bark on my Methley plum has several dark splits. Is that a fungus? If so, what should I do?


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John Heider

John Heider · Gardenality Genius · Zone 9B · 25° to 30° F
Hi Cheryl-The Methley plum is susceptible to both fungal diseases and bacterial diseases. If you could upload a picture of the splits in the bark it would help to identify the problem. I'm thinking the tree may have Bacterial Canker. This disease usually starts or enters the tree during the trees dormancy and isn't noticed until late winter or early spring. The cankers are splits in the bark that are usually longer than they are wide. Inside the splits the bark is unually black or darker and may look wet or has some sort or oozing coming from them. Other fungal diseases and pest damage would look different that a split in the bark. Winter frost can also cause the bark of the plum tree to crack which could allow the entry of pests and disease. Above this and to the right of your name you will see where you can upload a picture of the problem area.

1 year ago ·
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Cheryl Hatter

Cheryl Hatter · Gardenality Seed · Zone 9A · 20° to 25° F
Do you have a Mobil app?

1 year ago ·
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2 Answers

Answer #1 · Brent Wilson's Answer · Hi Cheryl - As John mentioned, a picture of the bark splits would help for a positive identification, though sometimes it's difficult to determine exactly why the bark is splitting.

We usually see the bark splitting on young trees. These splits usually won't kill trees though, as John mentioned, they can allow diseases and insects in that could cause decay to set in.

As John also mentioned, there are many environmental factors that can cause bark to split on a plum tree.

Waether extremes can do it. Warm temperatures that come right after very cold weather can cause the bark to split. Also, a prolonged period of dry weather followed by a period with excessive moisture can cause the splits in the bark.

Over-fertilization can cause it, especially when fertilized too late in the season. Cease any fertilization two months prior to the typical first frost date in your area. Also avoid using quick-release, high-nitrogen fertilizers. Nitrogen is the first number in the three numbers found on fertilizers. I fertilize all my fruits and vegetables with a non-burning organic fertilizer.

Sunscald can also cause the bark on trunks or branches to split, especially on younger trees. The only way around this is to wrap the trunks of young trees with tree wrap. This product comes in rolls. It my be a "special order" item at your local nursery and garden center, though some may have it in stock.

Whatever the cause, you want to do something to help the wound heal. Tree paints and tars have shown very little if any value in helping to close wounds or help them to callus over. The best thing to do is to trace the bark around the split. To do this you'll use a sharp knife to trace around the wound about 1/2 to 1 inch beyond the split. When tracing just cut deep enough to go through the outer bark layer. Then, carefully remove the bark from inside the traced area. You should now have a bare area. Don't treat the bare area with anything...just leave it alone to heal naturally. If the tree is healthy, it shouldn't take to long for the bare to callus over completely.

Hope this info was helpful and let us know if you need more details or have any other questions.

Brent)


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Cheryl Hatter

Cheryl Hatter · Gardenality Seed · Zone 9A · 20° to 25° F
How do I upload Picture for you?

1 year ago ·
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Brent Wilson

Brent Wilson · Gardenality Administrator · Zone 8A · 10° to 15° F
Scroll to the top of the page and look for the "Upload A Picture" link to the right of your name in your question. If you click on that it allows you to upload a picture that you have stored in a file on your computer. Let me know if you need more detailed instructions.

http://www.gardenality.com/Articles/734/Gardenality/Gardenality-Help/Uploading-A-Picture/default.html

1 year ago ·
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Brent Wilson

Brent Wilson · Gardenality Administrator · Zone 8A · 10° to 15° F
Cheryl - This definitely looks like just bark splitting. Also looks like the splits have already begun to heal over a bit. Keep an eye on the trees and if the splits look like they are getting larger you could do the tracing method I described above. Use a low-nitrogen, mild, organic fertilizer to lightly fertilize the trees. If you wanted, you could cover the splits with some tree wrap...which is a cardboard linke paper material that comes on a roll. This might help to keep insects out. But I think the trees will be okay as they are...let's hope so anyway!

1 year ago ·
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Cheryl Hatter

Cheryl Hatter · Gardenality Seed · Zone 9A · 20° to 25° F
Thank you both for your time and help. What a great website this is!!

1 year ago ·
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Answer #2 · John Heider's Answer · Cheryl-Looking at your pictures I don't believe the damage is canker. Reading what I have found and comparing pictures it looks as though the splitting may have been caused by fluctuating weather conditions as Brent mentioned. If it was a canker disease the underlying damage would most likely be moist looking. In many cases there would be showing a gum like substance around the damaged area or oozing from the infected areas. Your pictures show a more elongated split than most cankers seem to have that I researched. Canker seems to spread to the sides or around a trunk or stem also eventually girdling the trunk or tree slowly killing it.

As Brent mentioned, weather extremes, over fertilization, and sun scald are some of the factors that can cause this splitting. Younger trees are also more susceptible to these harmful conditions. I noted a couple of interesting articles posted by Cornell University Cooperative Extension and a university horticultural program regarding bark splitting and proceedures to help heal this damage. I also uploaded a few pictures I found of bark splitting on fruit trees you can compare to your trees damage. Just click on the links below to go directly to the articles.

Brent will also see your pictures and be able to give us a knowlegable opinion as to what the damage to your tree may have been caused by.

http://ccesuffolk.org/assets/Horticulture-Leaflets/Bark-Splitting-On-Trees.pdf

http://www.uri.edu/ce/factsheets/sheets/barksplit.html

Hopefully this has helped.)


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