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Monday, August 29, 2011

Stop Horsing Around With Those Fruit Trees

Pruning cut healing with the cambium and wood "rolling"
over the damaged area.

Q. Short story, we had a horse get out of their corral while we were out of the house today for probably 4-5 hours. While out, he ate most of the bark of 60% of the trunk of one of our pear trees. The tree has quite a bit of fruit on it right now, we are more concerned with saving the tree than this years crop. Suggestions or ideas on anything you would suggest we should do would be very much appreciated. We live out near the orchard in the northwest, the “exposed” part is a direct west sunlight direction.

A. Long answer. The good part of this is that your tree, provided it is healthy, will probably survive. I have had fruit trees with that much damage to the trunk survive in the past. Your horse probably ate all the way down to the wood. This means that the tissue which transports food from the leaves to the roots is gone in that area as well as the tissue which transports water from the roots to the leaves. With 40% intact on the trunk the tree may struggle but it should still survive.

I would recommend that you mulch the ground around the trunk with wood mulch which you can obtain free from our orchard. Saturate the ground around the trunk of the tree with water 2 to 3 times each week. Clean the wound created by the horse with a sharp, sterile knife, cleaning the jagged edges of the damaged bark so that it is smooth. You do not need to paint the wound with anything. Just let it go after you have traced the wound with your knife. Make sure you fertilize the tree next January and each January while it is trying to heal. Enjoy the fruit. But next year thin the fruit out why it is the size of the silver dollar so there is only one fruit per cluster.

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