East Tennessee White Oaks Hit Hard By Late Freeze
The late spring freeze was expected to have an effect on mast production in East Tennessee, and it certainly has done that, according to the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA).
“Although the white oak mast was hit hard in the lower elevations, we do have some red oak mast,” said David Brandenburg, TWRA wildlife biologist. “White oaks did better in the higher elevations of the Cumberland Plateau and in the mountains of East Tennessee.”
Brandenburg is just completing the summary of mast surveys conducted by field personnel. Mast surveys are conducted each year in selected counties and WMAswma”s across Tennessee. Surveys are run along an established route so that data can be compared to that collected in previous years.
Data collected this year in counties and wma’s in Region IV is as follows:
- Carter County: 19 of 28 white oaks sampled had acorns, 3 of 48 red oaks had acorns.
- Grainger County: 0 of 43 white oaks had acorns, 2 of 12 red oaks had acorns.
- Greene County: 2 of 45 white oaks had acorns, 7 of 33 red oaks had acorns.
- Hamblen County: 1 of 28 white oaks had acorns, 17 of 28 red oaks had acorns.
- Chuck Swan WMA: 1 of 18 white oaks had acorns, 14 of 22 red oaks had acorns.
- Royal Blue WMA: 20 of 44 white oaks had acorns, only 5 of 27 red oaks had acorns.
This year’s late freeze is expected to have more of an effect on next year’s red oak mast, since red oak acorns take two years to mature.
Reproduction in black bears in the Southern Appalachians appears to be closely related to acorn abundance. Research on white-tailed deer in the Appalachians has demonstrated that acorn abundance significantly influences body weights, antler size, and productivity of deer.
Although the overall production of acorns is down, there may be isolated pockets where white oaks were not affected.