Annual dormancy-growth cycle is a developmental and physiological process essential for the survival of temperate and boreal forests. Seasonal control of shoot growth in woody perennial requires specific genetic programs integrated to the environmental signals. The environmental-controlled mechanisms that regulate the shift between winter dormancy to growth promoting genetic program are still unknown. Here, we show that dynamics in genomic DNA methylation (gDNA) levels regulate dormancy-growth cycle in poplar. We proved that the reactivation of cell division in the apical shoot that lead bud break process in spring, is preceded by a progressive reduction of gDNA methylation in apex tissue. We also identified that the induction in apex tissue of a chilling-dependent poplar DEMETER-LIKE 10 (PtaDML10) DNA demethylase precedes shoot growth reactivation. Transgenic poplars showing down-regulation of PtaDML8/10 caused delayed bud break. Genome wide transcriptome and methylome analysis and data mining revealed the gene targets of active DML-dependent DNA demethylation genetically associated to bud break. These data point to a chilling dependent-DEMETER-like DNA demethylase controlling the genetic shift from winter dormancy to a condition that promotes shoot apical vegetative growth in poplar.