Did Your Oak Tree Drop a Ton of Acorns this Fall? Every two to five years oak trees have a mast year during which they produce an unusually large number of acorns. Other nut-bearing trees that are common in forests like pecan trees and walnut trees also have mast years. If you have a mature, healthy oak tree that dropped a crazy amount of acorns in your yard this fall, it was likely caused by the hard freeze of the 2021 winter. The rare cold spell invigorated a mast year for many oak trees across East Texas.  Let’s explore the meaning of these terms and why some Arborists believe the hard Texas freeze of 2021 may have encouraged oaks to overproduce acorns this fall.

What is a Mast?

Mast is just another word for forest tree fruit including nuts, berries, seeds, and other fruit.

Why do Oaks Have Mast Years?

During a mast year live oaks, post oaks, and other nut-bearing forest trees have a boom crop year in which they overproduce as part of the natural reproduction cycle. In other non-masting years, they may produce no fruit, a small amount, or an average amount of acorns.

How Might Last Year’s Hard Freeze Cause a Mast Year?

During the hard freeze earlier this year, many small or malnourished live oak trees were damaged or died. One theory suggests this fall’s boom acorn crops are nature’s way of attempting to plant new oak trees to replace the ones that were lost, repopulating the oak tree population. In a non-masting year, most of the nuts, seeds, and berries dropped by forest trees in Texas are consumed by squirrels, birds, deer, and other wildlife but when trees drop a massive amount of fruit there will likely be leftover acorns that take root.

Although many scientists and Arborists have theories as to what may have triggered a mast year they are only educated guesses. If you’re concerned about the health of your oak tree or it underproduced acorns this year, contact our oak tree specialists.

Synchronized Oak Masting

Trees within close proximity to one another or grouped in moderately populated areas tend to synchronize masting years. Although scientists don’t know for certain why oaks and other hardwood trees mast together, Arborists hypothesize that it helps them prepare for the upcoming seasons. Another common hypothesis is that it helps maximize the efficiency of seed pollination, particularly after a difficult season due to drought, hard freezes, or other extreme weather events.

Contact Cody’s Tree Service, Inc.

Whether you have a live oak, post oak, pecan, or another forest tree that bears fruit, our ISA Certified Arborists can assess their health, any potential risks, and recommend a maintenance schedule and/or treatment if you suspect your tree is sick. We provide both residential and commercial tree services in Katy, Fulshear, Richmond, and Hockley, Texas. Send us an email requesting service or call (281) 391-3450 to speak with our tree company about your specific needs.