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Painting Tree Trunks White Prevents Cracking

Painted TreeI’ve seen the trunks of some fruit trees painted white. What’s the reason for doing this? 

Erratic winter temperatures can cause repeated freezing and thawing of sap, which causes the bark on the trunk of a tree to crack — much like how potholes get created in streets. Young trees are more susceptible to the problem. Painting tree trunks white helps prevent the cracking because less of the sun’s energy is absorbed, which reduces any sunscald effect, explains Rick Godsil Jr., owner of Wagon Wheel Orchard in Johnson County, Kan.

If you’d like to try this old-time technique yourself, Godsil recommends using inexpensive “barn paint” — sold at most hardware stores — and mixing the white paint 50-50 with water before applying.

— Vicki Mattern, Contributing Editor 

Right: Paint protects trees from erratic temperatures. 

Photo By Lee Reich 

Vicki Mattern is a contributing editor for MOTHER EARTH NEWS magazine, book editor and freelance magazine writer. She has edited or co-authored seven books on gardening, and lives and works from her home in northwestern Montana. You can find Vicki on .