University of Illinois Extension

Protecting Fruit Trees

Winter injury is a common occurrence to apple, peach, sour cherry and other fruit trees in some parts of northern Illinois, said a University of Illinois Extension horticulture educator who has recommendations for homeowners wishing to avoid such damage.

“The injury can occur on barks and roots of trees,” said Maurice Ogutu. “The roots are injured when the soil is frozen. Some rootstocks are more prone to winter injury than others.”

Ogutu recommends that homeowners protect fruit trees by the following steps:

  1. Plant hardy cultivars.
  2. Use hardy rootstocks that can tolerate low temperatures.
  3. Paint tree trunks with white latex paint.
  4. Apply straw mulch four to six inches thick from the trunk to drip line to protect the roots of rootstocks that are susceptible to freeze injury from November to March.
  5. Check for rodents like mice and voles.