Mast Year????

sam_mdJune 9, 2012

Did anyone else notice something different this Spring? The cherry & crabapple trees were loaded with flowers. The pecan which towers over my house left a brown carpet of catkins much thicker than normal. Every tree & shrub had an extra heavy bloom excepting common lilac.

Pictured here are sassafras in fruit and linden in bloom today. Did you experience the same thing? Are we in for a mast year? If so what caused it?

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Well, I don't know for sure what happened in the mid-Atlantic states last year, but here in the Detroit area, 2011 was the wettest year on record, and the only period of drought we had was a minor 3-4 week drought from very late June to late July. The rest of the season had abundant rain, moderate to warm temps, really ideal growing conditions. And it showed in this spring's bloom and general vegetative growth, which is lush and profuse on everything this year.

Unfortunately, though, unlike your area, we had killing freezes in April after record March warmth, and many, many trees and shrubs lost all or most of their crop. So, I'm not really sure what that will mean for animals and birds this fall, but I think many of them will face hardships.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2012 at 9:59PM
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Well, Sam, I'm not too far from you, (central PA near the MD line) and it ain't mast-y here. The black walnuts are scarce, and the few on the trees are falling. My white oaks have few acorns, red oaks only normal. Early stone fruit is non-existent. If you have apricots, they are worth their weight in gold, and early peaches are almost all frost ringed. (Tough to sell ugly peaches.)

My pecans set almost no nuts, but the filberts (both C. avellana and americana) are loaded. I suspect this is because we are near the northern edge of pecans and it froze after the leaves were out (freezing the incipient catkins), but the filberts bloomed in late Feb (normal for here) and can take freezing temps even after bloom.

It is interesting to note that the white birch (B. papyrifera) made catkins, but they were dry and made no pollen, another casualty of the warm March and cold April.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2012 at 9:36AM
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beng(z6 western MD)

Yeah, the usual lilac blooms failed to appear here too. Ditto for pagoda dogwood.

Overall, it seems like a poor-fruiting yr. Sugar maples last yr were so loaded w/seeds that their foliage was noticeably scant -- but no seeds this yr. Black cherry flowered well, but none of the cherries developed (pretty typical). However, young Burr & Swamp white oaks have OK acorn crops & perhaps from the mild winter, my 'Victoria' southern mag has already had several flowers -- very early.

Dzitmoidonc, I'm on the Mason-Dixon line too -- well west of you.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2012 at 9:50AM
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One thing that was able to fruit with profusion was silver maple. The trees were loaded, turning straw colored as the crop matured, it they fell about 4 weeks ahead of schedule, around the 10th of May instead of the normal early June.

Those are a short term food source for some animals, squirrels, chipmunks, but they don't store. I've found many a chipmunk's cache of these seeds stuffed into a flower pot or garden bed, in the process of sprouting into a miniature forest of silver maple seedlings.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2012 at 11:17AM
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whaas_5a(5A SE WI)

Some conifers (Picea) around here are loaded with cones.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2012 at 2:56PM
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White Oak is incredibly abundant this year, I just couldn't help myself. I picked these up in a local park in about 3 minutes. I hate to see (and hear) the cars drive over them.

    Bookmark   October 5, 2012 at 7:52PM
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What'd'ya mean, Sam? Just bring your flat shovel and scrape up all that delicious nut butter!


    Bookmark   October 5, 2012 at 9:03PM
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jimbobfeeny(5a IN)

It's been weird around here. Last year, we had 55 inches of rain, plus the dryest July on record. This year, we had the worst drought in 130 years (in other words, it's never been so dry) from May through Early August. Now, though, we've had 11 inches of rain since the beginning of August! We are right around normal rainfall. I'm not complaining, of course! Our climate is a fairly moist one, for the Midwest - Indiana seems to have it's own climate. Where we are, we get weather from the Ohio Valley, as well as from the north. Excellent tree climate, though - Mostly Beech-Maple-Elm forest. Usually I don't have to water anything, maybe once for establishment. This year, I was watering all summer! Now that I think about it, it was worth it to keep everything watered. I would have felt awful if I let everything die only to see tons of rain return in August - NOAA was predicting drought to last through the end of October.

It's a mediocre year around here - Not a mast year, but not a total lack. I'm collecting a bunch of acorns today for planting. Can never have too many trees!

    Bookmark   October 6, 2012 at 8:49AM
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This is quite an unusual tree, at least for us in eastern Maryland. My previous seed tree was blown over by Katrina. This is from Delaware's champ. The nuts are sweet and delicious. For some reason this tree reminds me of Austin Powers. Do you ever use the nuts? Can you name this tree?

    Bookmark   October 13, 2012 at 11:30AM
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Carya ovata?


    Bookmark   October 13, 2012 at 12:03PM
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shagbark hickory (also) ?

    Bookmark   October 14, 2012 at 6:14AM
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jimbobfeeny(5a IN)

Shagbark. We have tons of it around here on higher ground; it's replaced by shellbark hickory on low ground. I actually prefer shellbark for the nutmeat.

    Bookmark   October 14, 2012 at 6:45AM
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beng(z6 western MD)

sam_md, gotta be shagbark. I don't think shellbark's native range covers the MD eastern shore.

Shagbark is at home here in the MD mountains too, but never common. Bitternut is the most common hickory here, a capable competitor in the oak/maple forest. Mockernut was the most common in the SW VA mountains.

    Bookmark   October 14, 2012 at 9:41AM
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Interesting tree, the shellbark (Which this^ is not). We've got them in, as you say, some moister situations. At least some range maps I've seen don't show the species occurring this far north, but I am certain they're here. I even cut some down once to grow shiitake mushrooms on, back in the day when I was embarking on that hobby. The shrooms fruited well on that species, BTW.


    Bookmark   October 14, 2012 at 11:35AM
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I defer to the infinite wisdom of my fellow posters and the shagadelic hickory it is and remains.
Has anyone seen how variable the nut size is on this species? I hope to gather some C. ovata next week with larger nuts.
How is it possible that people cut these exquisite trees down to make skis out of?

    Bookmark   October 14, 2012 at 1:15PM
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In keeping with the shagbark hickory theme, I collected many nuts recently from a tree in Chevy Chase. Many nuts are still on the tree. Compared to the tree in Delaware the CC tree's bark is not as shaggy and the nuts are bigger. I had to open them with a vice. They were delicious but alot of work. Also, some of the leaves of the CC tree had 7 leaflets. Are these differences to be expected as natural variation or is something else going on?

Bark on the Chevy Chase tree.

    Bookmark   October 29, 2012 at 4:21PM
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