What does a frost crack look like?

Q. I’ve heard about trees developing frost cracks in winter. How can I tell if any of my trees have a frost crack? What does a frost crack look like?

A. Early this spring, walk around your property and examine your trees. If you see any significant vertical cracks, they are most likely frost cracks.

The tree will grow over the crack with “reaction wood” in spring and summer. This makes it more difficult to identify frost crack damage later in the year.

Frost cracks can damage and kill the bark and cambium layer, so also look for a long, vertical sunken wound on the trunk.

In some cases, however, frost cracks are only internal; because they form below the surface of the bark, you may not be able to detect them for a year or two.

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Answer Provided By ...

Jerry Somalski

Jerry is a Landscape Designer, Project Manager, and the President of Bay Landscaping. He began learning about plants and landscape design as a young boy, hoeing in the family nursery and tagging along with the landscape crews who taught him the tools and methods of the trade. After earning a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration at Central Michigan University, he returned to the family business. Jerry has an enthusiastic yet practical approach to landscape design, focused on choosing the right plants (ones that thrive in the mid-Michigan climate) for the right place to create sustainable and spectacular landscapes. He loves to share what he knows with gardeners throughout Michigan! Learn more about Jerry >>