Sav­ing a young tree

Country Smallholding - - Ask the Experts -

Q

Help! I’ve got a young ap­ple tree that’s had the bark stripped all the way round it by rab­bits. Will this kill the tree? Is there any way I can save it?

A

Kevin Alviti says: Yes, it can be saved! If you leave the tree, chances are that the top will die off as it will get no sap; you might get some growth be­low but this is likely to be the root­stock. It can be saved by a method called bridge graft­ing, done in early spring.

Take a cou­ple of small branches of this year’s growth from the top of the tree. This should be soft and flex­i­ble. Cut it slightly longer than the area stripped by rab­bits. Then on each end cut, us­ing a sharp knife, a long cut and a small cut on the other side to make an off-cen­tre wedge shape.

In the trunk, make an in­ci­sion be­low the dam­age and one above. Th­ese cuts aren’t too deep, but enough to ex­pose the cam­bium layer just be­low the bark, this is where the sap flows in the tree. Then in­sert your ‘bridges’ into the cuts. They are cut slightly long so they have to be bent into po­si­tion help­ing to main­tain cam­bium con­tact once the tape is ap­plied. Th­ese bridges will act as new veins in the tree while it heals.

Tape it up us­ing graft­ing or elec­tri­cal tape, so it holds to­gether and ap­ply wax to seal it. The tree will soon heal and in five years you won’t be able to tell it ever hap­pened!

Com­plet­ing the re­pair

By­pass­ing the dam­aged area

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