Ohio's Red Oak Acorn Production Shows an Increase
Mast crop abundance can affect hunting plans
Ohio's fall crop of acorns is a vital food source for more than 90 forest wildlife species. White oak acorn production declined by 15 percent over 2008 figures, while red oak acorn production increased by 11 percent, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Wildlife.
"White oak acorn production declined across much of the state, but this will be at least partially offset by increased red oak acorn production." said Suzie Prange, ODNR forest wildlife biologist. "In general, acorn production for both white and red oaks was better in the northern than southern portion of the state."
The ODNR Division of Wildlife is currently participating in a multi-state research project to estimate regional acorn production throughout the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states. Wildlife biologists hope to use the acorn production information gathered in the study to forecast wildlife harvest and reproductive success rates on a local and regional basis.
Acorn production is cyclical, with some trees producing acorns nearly every year, while others rarely ever produce. Division of Wildlife employees scanned the canopies of selected oak trees on 38 wildlife areas in the state to determine the percentage of trees that produced acorns and the relative size of the acorn crop. Results varied regionally, but an average of 26 percent of white oak trees and 41 percent of red oak trees bore fruit this year. Wildlife prefer white oak acorns, because red oak acorns contain a high amount of tannin and are bitter in taste.
Mast crop abundance can affect hunting plans as well. Hunters can expect to find deer, wild turkeys and squirrels concentrated near areas with heavy crops of white and chestnut oak acorns this fall. In areas with poor acorn production, these animals are more likely to feed around agricultural areas and forest edges.