COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio wildlife experts are going nuts over a new survey that shows a breakdown in the number of acorns produced by trees across the state which in turn affects the wildlife population.
The 2020 acorn abundance survey, which was conducted on 38 wildlife areas around Ohio, showed an above-average year for red oak acorn production. Results showed that an average of 70% of red oak trees bore fruit this year, well above the 16-year average, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife.
In addition to the number of trees producing acorns, the study also estimated the percentage of each tree’s crown that was covered in acorns and red oaks had a 32% average, an increase from last year and much higher than the long-term average of 20%, ODNR said.
While it’s good news that red oaks are thriving when it comes to acorn production, white oaks, the favorite of many Ohio wildlife species, was below average this year, according to ODNR.
An average of 27% of white oaks bore fruit, below the 16-year average. The average crown coverage of white oaks in Ohio was just 6%. Although that is above the 2019 total, it’s below the long term average of 9%, ODNR said.
Wildlife prefer white oak acorns because red pack acorns contain a high amount of tannin and make them taste bitter, according to ODNR.
By this point you’re probably wondering why acorn production is so important.
White-tailed deer, wild turkey and squirrels concentrate near areas with heavy acorn crops. ODNR said that numerous studies have linked the abundance of acorn crops to body condition, winter survival and reproductive success of white-tailed deer, wild turkeys, black bears, gray squirrels and ruffed grouse, ODNR said.
That information can help hunters to improve on hunting success across Ohio.
To learn more about the study, click here.