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Wildlife Sustained by Acorns

Making It Grow! Minute logo

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. In days long past, the fruits of chestnuts were the most important source of mast in forests of the eastern United States. Today, acorns, fruits of red and white oaks, are the major source of winter food that large number of animals –blue jays, wild turkeys, squirrels, deer, black beer and more rely upon for sustenance.

In years with low mast production, hunters may have an easier time harvesting game as the animals are clustered in areas where more acorns fell. Conversely, a year with massive hard mast production lets the animals roam more widely. Good hunters pay attention to mast trees – oaks that are usually higher than the surrounding canopy and with extra sunlight tend to have a heavier set of acorns to drop. Research shows that fertilizing mature oaks usually doesn’t increase acorn production – it naturally varies from year to year.

Amanda McNulty is a Clemson University Extension Horticulture agent and the host of South Carolina ETV’s Making It Grow! gardening program. She studied horticulture at Clemson University as a non-traditional student. “I’m so fortunate that my early attempts at getting a degree got side tracked as I’m a lot better at getting dirty in the garden than practicing diplomacy!” McNulty also studied at South Carolina State University and earned a graduate degree in teaching there.