Frost Crack

Frost Crack photo via Wikimedia Commons

Q. I have noticed frost cracking on my sycamore. What, if anything, should I do about it?

A. Frost cracking occurs when winter temperatures fluctuate widely. The longitudinal cracks occur from the expansion and contraction of the bark that is warmed by the sun and then rapidly cooled by cloud cover or nightfall. The resulting crack may be accompanied by a loud noise. Frost cracks may be quite large during the winter months, but will usually close during the growing season. It is common for these cracks to reopen the following winters and close again in the summers. While these cracks can allow diseases and other organisms to infect the tree, there is no treatment specifically for frost cracking. Keeping the tree healthy is the best way to protect it from decline. Focus on supplemental watering and avoiding compacted soils around the tree. Note that frost cracks can also occur in maples, lindens, walnuts, willows, and other trees. If the tree leafs out abnormally in the spring, have the tree assessed by a certified arborist for safety.

Please contact Plant Information Service at (847) 835-0972 or plantinfo@chicagobotanic.org for more detailed information.

Photo via Wikimedia Commons