Seeking advice on girdled tree


I had six gurdled trees last year, so I know how it feels. Two of mine survived. My evens was chewed all the way around for two to three inches and showed no signs of setback. I taped with painters tape. Same thing with my Candy Heart but it was dead right away. Sweet Treat was girdled for about 3/4 of the trunk and about four inches worth. It grew great. My peach tree was girdled all the way around and I decided around the end of May to bridge graft it. It held on til August and then died. I taped all of them except for some small cherries. My advice to you is harvest some branches from the trees and do some bench grafting as soon as the tree is waking up or just before. I waited to long. I cut my branches a little long and bent them to fit so they jabed themselves into the graft joints. Your bottom tree looks like toast to me but you never know. The first tree looks like it will make it. I couldn’t believe my Evens tree callused over under my tape. It was chewed well into the sapwood. You might even get a shoot to come out above your trees graft. You can graft to other trees too to save your variety then when the rootstock shoots up put a bud on the shoot a year later. Sometimes it’s easiest to pull them and plant a new tree too. It’s up to you.


Can you get some rootstocks? I had excellent success with inarching, I think it’s called, on a young cherry tree I have that was 85-90% girdled. I mean the one where you graft rootstock up to the tree above the injury.

I actually used suckers the rootstock pushed out after injury, but that could be waiting too long in many cases.


This is sad.
The first tree ( Macoun ) I believe will grow out of this damage,
If mine , I would trim up the jagged sides of the damage ,and maybe wrap with a sealer , plastic and masking tape?
Parafilm ? , wax ? Or maybe nothing at all ?
It should heal," mostly".
Give it an extra dose of nitrogen this spring.
And … Shoot that rascally rabbit ! ,! ,!

The second tree looks a bit worse off…
While with that thin strip of intact bark , it " may " survive.?
But will never thrive , never heal like you would want it too…
It looks really bad.
If it was mine…I would cut it right off , just below the damage,
And do some bark grafts, or whatever type of grafts you wish to try.
Think of it as mandatory grafting practice .
This tree needs your help.
You "can "save it ! ! !


in my experience, also, the first will most probably survive, the second will probably not survive.


First I have to say, Dam!!! Must be A cross of rabbits and beaver in your neck of the woods. Unfortunately, agree with the bunch. First one will probably make it however,the second is hurting.

I’d pull a couple of scions off number two and put them on the bottom and hope for the best. That is if you want to try to save it and don’t mind waiting a few years more for fruit.


The first one will survive.
And you might be able to pile dirt up and get roots to take from the trunk?
Or, some chance bridge grafting would work.
(At worst collect some scion wood for the fridge.)


Thanks for all the comments and suggestions. I think the Macoun will be OK, but I think I’ll take some scions now and maybe do one or two bridge grafts later, maybe in April or May.

What makes this infuriating is that there was a cage on the opening of the Suncrisp’s cage, but because it wasn’t secured down, it blew off in high winds or was pushed off and rolled down the hill. So one or two days of no protection and it gets basically ruined.

Regarding the Suncrisp, I think my best strategy is to take some scions off the top now and store them as well. When the time comes for grafting, I’ll have to decide whether to try two or three bridges or just lopp off the whole tree down onto the rootstock and try some cleft grafts and try to get a new leader going. The rootstock is G30, which has been pretty vigorous, so maybe it’ll take off. I’ll lose 3 or 4 years waiting for it to regrow, if it even takes. If not, I have another bench grafted Suncrisp that could take its place.

I don’t have rootstocks to try in-arching, and considering how big the tree is now, it would prob take two or three to work.

Although I’m extremely PO’ed, after I looked at the damage and did some reading of y’all’s and other articles, and watching some videos, I think I may be able to save one for sure and maybe both. I am grateful that the other unprotected six trees are OK, so I got those covered now.

Again, thanks for the replies. It is a never ending battle with varmits, bugs, disease and weather. But, hopefully one day all this work will be worth it.


@BlueBerry Those look like raspberry canes to me


Like I said, I’ll take some scion wood soon. Good thing the trees are still dormant to be able to do that.

I have a few questions for y’all that I’m still not clear about:

When would be a good time to try the bridge grafts with the scions? When the trees are blooming (mid-late April here) or leafed out (mid-May)?

What should I put on these open wounds now, wax, white paint? I would like to keep that exposed skin from drying out too much.

When doing the bridge grafts, does the direction of the scions matter? That is, do they need to have the buds facing upwards or downwards?

If I do the bridges, how many should be done, and how thick should they be?

Finally, if the bridges take, will they eventually widen out and fill in the damaged areas?

Thanks for the replies.


When to bridge graft Apple in Ky. …
Mid- late March , so in a couple weeks

Wax would be good.

How many bridge grafts…
0- 1 on first tree

3-4 on second tree, or cut off and graft rootstock

Often they may not ever completely heal , such that it will look like a " normal" tree. But may heal enough, that it may live and produce for a long time ?
Most bridge grafting I have done was to repair damage on trees older and larger than yours. Seamed worth while. Certainly helped.
On young trees such as yours ( especially #2 ) I think it is best to remove that damage.
If you cut it below the damage and do successful grafts, you will have a nice tree
. If the graft fails this year, it will still send up a shoot from the Rootstock , that can be budded this summer, as a second chance, and then you always have next spring to try another graft onto it.
Not saying that they will fail,… But sometimes they do…"
Just saying you have many opertunitys to make it right.
If you want your sun crisp,store some wood in the refridge, put some on your rootstock, and put some on some of your other trees , just to save that variety,


[quote=“subdood_ky_z6b, post:49, topic:15271”

(" does the direction of the scions matter? ")

Yes, direction matters, they should point up,
Just as they are on the tree


I agree. I have lost trees to openings under cages (sometimes the animal dug under to make it big enough). you have to have tree guards on each and everyone of them, and you need to take them off in April or May and put them on in October. I have had trees girdled when I got to the job (put the tree guards on) November 10!


OK thanks. What kind of wax could I use? I don’t have any asphalt type of sealant, but was wondering what type of wax would work. I’ve read some folks on here use toilet bowl ring wax. I’m looking for something I can pick up soon at the store, whether it’s a hardware place or maybe Walmart or Lowe’s.


So in the spring and summer you don’t have to worry about the rodents eating your tree bark?


no, I have never seen it. But I am amazed how early they start eating bark. I mean, there was still fresh grass and broadleaves everywhere Nov. 10. and I had checked them in late October while picking Goldrush and there was no damage. If you don’ t take out the guards you may be more susceptible to borers and that is a similar type of damage (the single plum I have was attacked, it is still alive but clearly set back a lot). At this point I have only a couple asian pears which have produced strong bark and can be left unprotected.


Well, this damage is puzzling because we have quite a bit of green grass around the area especially in our front yard. No trees are leafed out, of course, but plenty of grass, and wild green onions are sprouting up, not that they eat those.

These two trees are farthest from the house, below the barn. Which also means they are closest to a steep hillside. So maybe the varmits are down under the hill and came up for a snack?

But, like I said, I’m glad they didn’t get after my other unprotected trees. Two trees, a Pineapple pear and Winesap apple are quite large now, about 3in diameter, so I’m glad they didn’t get hit.

I went down there today and got down on the ground and got a closer look to the Suncrisp damage. I cleared away some dirt away from the rootstock, and think I have enough bark on the rootstock to maybe get at least four bridge grafts done up to the scion. I thought why not try, I have another SC in a pot that could take its place if my effort doesn’t work.

In order to help the tree get back on its feet sooner, should I prune back the limbs to a few buds, and maybe head back the central leader? It’s about 7ft high now.

I think the Macoun will need at least one graft, as there is about 40% girdling and I want to make sure it makes a total recovery. It will be a bit more difficult as there are burr knots on the rootstock, so I’ll have to bend the scion up and around to the trunk.


How interesting. I’ve goats for 6 years and the whole time there have been several large maple trees inside their fenced area. They love to eat all the leaves and twigs within reach, but never bothered the trunk or root tops. Then this year for some reason they have really been going after the bark on the top of the roots- right where the roots leave the trunk and have regular bark matching the trunk and head off in different directions. Those first few inches have been hit so hard this year that I’m worried it may kill my big beautiful maple trees that provide shade and look nice and so I’d really hate to loose them. I let them run out of mineral block for a few week this winter, so I strongly suspect that they may be after some mineral or other nutrient that they were missing without the blocks. Fortunately there is a fair amount of intact bark running from ground up so its not nearly as bad as the photo above of girdling, but if it continues I fear they will kill my trees. Is this similar to what you’ve experienced with your goats? Did you do anything about it besides fencing in the trees? I feel like my goats would get though almost any fence I’d put around a tree unless I did a really serious (read: expensive) one like my parameter fence, which would be a lot of work. Anyway, sorry to get a little off topic but I’m talking about girdled tree and not many others besides you and I have goats so I’d like to get your thoughts. thanks


I raised goats growing up. They ate the bark off the trees like it was string cheese! They are good–excellent–for cleaning land. Not good for trees.


You don’t want to put any asphalt product on a tree unless it’s made for tree wounds. Stuff like basement sealer will kill a tree. Beeswax like the toilet bowl ring will work great. for your grafts. It’s pliable enough that you don’t need to heat it up. It’s like puddy. I gouge chunks out with a screwdriver and stretch them around the graft just like puddy. Blue painters masking tape worked great for my trunks. I pulled it off in the fall and the trees had calloused up behind it. You can use flagging tape too starting from the bottom wrapping tight to the weather as you go up. You’ll want to get it covered right away. Youre tree is drying out with no protection which shortens your time window for healing and calousing in your scions. You want to keep the tree hydrated. Once covered the tree will be able to still get at least some moisture up the sapwood. It’s the hormones that can’t go back and forth without a cambium. That’s what kills the tree. Don’t be afraid to use tacks to hold your scions in place either. It’s a common practice with bridge grafting. Watch some videos on youtube.


Thanks, I ordered some Tanglefoot wound/graft sealant from ebay, it’s supposed to be here Tuesday. I couldn’t get any such stuff around here, just some type of spray sealant, which is hard to control where it goes. I’ll try to get some of that wax before the sealant arrives. Or I might just wrap it in tape until then.

I’ve been watching a lot of videos and read a lot of articles already on bridge grafting. It looks pretty easy. “Looks” easy, but once I actually do it may be another story. Yes, I’m planning on using tacks to hold the scions on, or they might work loose when the tree sways any. I’m going to be taking some scion wood off the tree today or tomorrow and cold store it until I need it.