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What happened to my young Oak tree?

Dan Chapman
last month
last modified: last month

I have a recently transplanted Red Oak Tree that is stressed and, I believe dying (I am located in Burlington, Ontario Canada - about 40 min drive from Buffalo, for reference). I had it professionally planted last June by a popular nursery in the area. My guess is it was about 70mm diameter last year and probably just over ten years old when I purchased it.

This year I noticed that the entire top 2/3 of the foiliage area is not producing any leaves. There are buds way up to the top, but none of them are growing into leaves. Here's an overview picture of the tree (my little one photo-bombed it!):

I took a closer look at the trunk and discovered to my horror that there appear to be long splits running all up and down the bottom 2/3 of the tree. I snapped a few pics:

I don't believe this is normal. Does anyone know what might have caused that kind of damage? The nursery warrantied my tree for three years from planting, but they are saying that because there are 'signs of life', they won't replace it. They asked me to cut a 1/4" deep into the bark and look to see whether there is anything green underneath or whether it was just typical wood.. If there wasn't then the tree had likely died beyond a certain point When I did that, I did see some green, but it was only slightly underneath the bark. Here's a pic:

Do you think the top of the tree is permanently dead? If it is, then I may be able to have it covered under warranty, but if it's not, then they are refusing to replace it (even though I will have lost 2/3 of the foiliaged area - maybe more).

I snapped a video as well which I uploaded to Youtube and which you can see here:

Any thoughts are welcomed. Thanks!

p.s. - this is my first post here!

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