What Causes Stress Cracks in Trees and How To Prevent It in Oak Ridge, TN?

Stress cracks in trees and vertical cracking in bark can be a sign of a potentially hazardous situation that needs immediate attention to protect property and safety. 

If left untreated, stress cracks can grow larger, leaving the tree’s core open to infection and disease while weakening the tree structurally. A leaning tree can be especially prone to suffering stress cracking.

Read this post for more information from Pro Tree of Knoxville, the top provider of tree services in Oak Ridge, TN, about the causes of stress cracks and how to remedy them.

stress cracks in trees

Causes of Tree Stress Cracking

Environmental factors and some health issues can cause internal stress, leading to trees breaking and cracking. Different tree species react differently to stress from extreme weather and infestation.

Extreme Temperature Variations

Deep freezes followed by sudden warming or extended hot weather followed by rapid air pressure and temperature drops can cause stress cracking. The sudden expansion and contraction cycle can stretch bark against the core trunk material traumatically, causing rips and tears.


The immediate and intense blast of electrical energy from a lightning strike can create explosive internal pressure in a tree’s core. Lightning can shatter tree trunks or split open sections of major branches.  

Fungal Infection

Fungi can cause internal wood decay, damaging a tree’s structural integrity. Ordinary weather strain can cause a weakened tree to break and split open. 

Preventing Stress Cracks in Trees

Of course, property owners cannot control the weather, but some general preventative measures go hand-in-hand with sound tree management and care.

Inspect your trees regularly for symptoms of disease, infestation, or decay. Proper watering and quality soil drainage are critically important to good tree health.

Prune trees carefully without removing structures unnecessarily. Younger trees or trees with previous damage might benefit from staking and cabling or wiring for additional support for some time.

Proper pest management and protecting trees from disease and infestation are always good strategies for maintaining strength and minimizing the risk of stress cracking. 

Professional Treatment for Stress Cracks

A tree care professional can help repair many stress cracks. They can trim dead and damaged branches and bark sections to promote healing and reduce the risk of infection or infestation through the wound.

An arborist can dress a wound with professional-grade material to further protect internal wood and help the tree heal itself. Other appropriate materials, like expanding foam, can fill and support cracks. Arborists can apply bolts to support the tree further and help close the area for healing. 

Rely on Pro Tree of Knoxville for Complete Tree Care

If you have concerns about stress cracks in trees on your property, let Pro Tree of Knoxville assess the risk factors present and recommend appropriate remedies. If we can save your tree, we’ll help you choose the best preservation measures. When necessary to protect property and safety, we can handle the tree removal process from start to finish. 

We invite you to read more about us and to call (865) 294-0062 today to schedule a free consultation.

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