A "MAST" YEAR FOR ACORNS
Some years, only a handful of acorns appear on each tree.
When an oak produces a ridiculously abundant crop
of nuts -- like this year -- it is called a "mast" year.
There just aren't enough predator feeding animals
(squirrels, birds, deer, turkeys, mice, critters)
to eat them or "squirrel them away" for the winter.
This ensures that many more acorns get planted
and have a chance to get started as seedlings.
There are 80 different species of oak tress in North America,
and all have acorns, or "oak nuts", which are high in tannin.
Animals can tolerate the tannin and dine on acorns.
Native Americans have used acorns for food
by removing the caps, cracking the shells and soaking
the corns in streams for several days.
This removes the tannins and produces a corn meal
which is a rich food for stews and bread
throughout the winter.