Cherry species are common ornamental and home fruit trees, usually with smooth gray or brownish bark. Under some conditions, the bark may crack, peel or separate from the tree. Sometimes this is a natural process, but other times it means something is wrong.
Sun damage to trees is most serious in the winter, according to the Manitoba Agriculture, Food and Rural Initiatives. Sun scald causes sunken, discolored bark that later cracks and peels, and can encourage bacteria, fungi and insects to colonize the tree. Prevent this condition by protecting the trunks with an insulating tree wrap.
Cherry tree bark also can crack from frost, as the wood inside the tree contracts and expands in response to temperature fluctuations. This condition usually is characterized by a vertical split in the tree bark, which can result in peeling. Avoid fertilizing trees late in the growing season to reduce splits.
Cherry trees that grow rapidly after dry weather also can develop bark splits. Provide plenty of irrigation in hot weather to reduce fluctuations in growing conditions.
Some cherry trees, such as the paperbark cherry, have naturally peeling bark. Younger trees are smooth, but the bark peels off in strips as the tree ages. This is natural and does not indicate a problem.
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