What Causes a Tree Trunk To Split?

Tree trunk splitting is exceedingly common and can significantly reduce a tree’s structural integrity. Some trees even fall due to severe trunk splits, creating a significant safety hazard that can jeopardize your property as well as your family’s well-being. However, many Clovis residents don’t know what causes a tree trunk to split or how to resolve the issue once it takes hold.

Cut Rite Tree Service created a brief guide explaining tree trunk cracking, its causes, and how to treat damage.

Cut Rite Tree Service ranks as one of Clovis, California’s leading professional arborist companies. If you need a reliable tree service in Clovis that can complete even the toughest projects without issue, contact our team. 

What Causes Tree Trunk Splitting?

Tree trunks split for various reasons, creating unsightly blemishes along the tree while drastically reducing its durability. Younger trees with thin bark tend to experience splitting more, especially in turbulent environmental conditions. But what causes a tree trunk to split?

Frost cracking is the most common cause of splitting tree trunks. Also called sun scald, frost cracking occurs when the sun warms the tree’s bark on unusually warm winter days before the temperatures drop at night. This causes the tree’s cells to expand and contract, forming large splits along the trunk.

However, remember that frost cracking damage doesn’t form right away and often won’t appear until spring. Sometimes, it can take several seasons to form, making it difficult to identify early. However, once the cracks appear, accompanied by signs of a dying tree such as dead bark developing along the wound, it further reduces the tree’s appearance and structural resilience.

How To Resolve Tree Splitting

Although it’s nearly impossible to prevent frost cracking, you can accelerate recovery with a few simple remedies. Below, we list a few ways to help a tree heal and repair moderate frost cracking and bark splitting.

  • Remove Scarring: Sometimes, removing the crack will help the tree recover faster and more efficiently. Cut the scarring out of the tree to promote recovery and speed up the process.
  • Bolting: Adding a few bolts along the crack will prevent it from worsening and provide additional support. Drill three or more holes close to the crack (but not too close) and place a washer over them before driving the bolts in place. 
  • Trunk Wrapping: Wrapping a tree’s trunk with reflective paper can hinder frost cracking and dramatically diminish damage. Although trunk wrapping isn’t always effective, it can give the tree an extra layer of protection against sun scald and similar issues.

Contact Cut Rite Tree Service for Top-Quality Tree Care in Clovis, California

If your trees experience frost cracking or trunk damage and require professional arborist services, contact Cut Rite Tree Service. We will explain what causes a tree trunk to split and provide tips for bringing a tree back to life. Our team has over 40 years of combined industry experience and will breathe new life into your property with exceptional tree care at affordable prices.

Give us a call at (559) 320-7723 and see what we can do for you in Clovis, California, today! 


We are a locally owned company that prides ourselves in providing the best service possible for the residents of Fresno, Clovis, Madera, Sanger, Folwer, Reedley and the surrounding areas.

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1806 N Temperance
Fresno, CA 93727 



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