November 8, 2011
COLUMBUS, OH Ohio's fall crop of acorns is a vital food source for more than 90 forest wildlife species. The white oak acorn production decreased by 43 percent from 2010 figures, as did the red oak acorn production which was down by 17 percent, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR), Division of Wildlife.
"We expected a decline in acorn production this year relative to last years bumper crop," said Suzie Prange, forest wildlife biologist with the Division of Wildlife.Although the decline in white oak production is substantial, the production of red oak acorns remains above the long-term average this year.
Mast crop abundance can affect hunting plans. 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.
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 16 percent of white oak trees and 58 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.
The 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.
TheODNR ensures a balance between wise use and protection of our natural resources for the benefit of all. Visit the ODNR Web site at www.ohiodnr.com.