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Allerton Park Bumper Crop Hardmast Year

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From: Creel Unbelove'd
Champaign, IL
I spent the morning hiking Allerton Park on Tues Sept 30 2014. I walked the green trail which has both upland and lowland forests. I have never seen so many acorn and hickory nuts in my life! I have lived in Central Illinois my whole life. I didn't collect any because the park rules do not allow it and I didn't have my phone with me so that I would pay attention to the hike. I saw plum-sized red acorns in shaggy pony coats, and standard issue acorns which are kind of shield shaped with the little patterned caps and elliptical golden acorns and reddish glossy acorns with striations. I could figure out most with the aid of a tree book. Burr Oak, Pin Oak, waxy red White Oak acorns, but I am not sure which had the oval golden brown acorns and the only picture I could find of the pea-sized round dark purple ones says it is a Myrtle Oak which doesn't make sense because that is an evergreen oak from Florida. What's your take on this? Why so many acorns this year? Just a perfect temperature and moisture? Thank You!

Extension Message
From: Jay Hayek
Extension Specialist, Forestry
Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences
The dominant oak species out at Allerton Park & Retreat Center are white oak, northern red oak, black oak, bur oak, and shingle oak.

Dominant hickory species include shagbark, bitternut, and mockernut.

My take on this is simple: east-central Illinois is experiencing an above average to "bumper crop" mast year for certain hardwood species. This is especially the case for northern red oak (Quercus rubra) and the urban pin oak trees (Quercus palustris).

I've discussed the concept of masting and bumper crops via previous postings -- please feel free to read through those responses!

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