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Mast Surveys

Acorn Production for 2007

Acorn mast surveys were completed on 24 routes in Game Management Regions I & II.  Each route consisted of 6-18 stops at approximately 1-mile intervals.  Where the appropriate trees were present, 2 to 4 trees of each oak group (white, red, chestnut) were sampled per stop.  These data are used to calculate a score for each oak group and overall scores for WMAs and physiographic regions.  In the southern Appalachians where alternate food sources are limited, acorns are of primary importance to wildlife.   Overall, red oak scores averaged 2.46, chestnut oaks scored 0.78, and white oaks scored 1.91.  The total oak rating for all oak groups combined was 1.88.  A score of less than 2 is considered a poor mast year, between 2 and 3 is fair, and above 3 is good.  The low scores this year indicate a poor acorn crop overall and are likely a result of the late freeze that occured in April combined with drought conditions over the past 2 years.  White oaks, which flower and produce mature acorns in the same season, were significantly impacted by the late freeze.  This is evident at lower elevations where white oak acorns are nearly non-existant.  At higher elevations (> 3000'), white oaks were not affected by the late freeze because they had not yet flowered and some were heavy producers this year.  Red oak production this year was minimally affected by the late freeze because red oaks require two years to produce mature acorns.  As a result, especially at lower elevations, red oaks will be heavily relied upon by wildlife this year.  The elevational differences in mast production are more clearly seen when looking at oak scores in the mountains (Overall Score: 2.40) compared to lower elevations in the Ridge & Valley (Overall Score: 0.52) and Upper Piedmont (Overall Score: 1.01).  Hickory nut production, which is important for some wildlife species, was rated poor in all physiographic regions (0.64).

Here is a link to the survey results for 2007 (Adobe Acrobat required).

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