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Monday, January 9, 2012

Should I wrap the Trunks of My Date Palms?

Q. I live in Pahrump and last winter we had a cold spell that turned the fronds on most of my Canary Palms brown and one of them is still recovering. How can I protect them from the cold the rest of the winter? A few neighbors have wrapped theirs where the fronds meet the trunk with burlap. Will this help?

A. There really is no magic way to do it. Many palm trees generate their new growth in the coming and future years from the terminal buds located at the tip of the trunk. The bud is usually good to about 10F for short periods of time. If cold kills the terminal bud the tree will eventually die because it cannot continue its growth without that terminal bud. Damage can also occur to the trunk from freezing temperatures so wrapping the trunk or wrapping some lights around the trunk might help if there is wind and low temperatures.
            Remember that cold damage is measured in how low the temperature gets combined with the amount of time it stays at these temperatures. Wind makes it worse. Then you have to figure the time of year as well.
            Extreme cold is usually more damaging in late fall and early spring than mid-winter. Winter damage to palms may not show up right after the cold temperatures. In some cases the extent of the damage may linger for years. Not very encouraging but I hope this helps.

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