Robert Miller: CT’s Hickory Trees Are Having A Fall Bonanza

Nancy Bemis checks out the Shagbark Hickory tree which is covered in Climbing up Hydrangea in the yard of the Huckleberry Hillside Road residence on the Secret Garden trip in New Canaan, Connecticut on June 8, 2012.

It’s like a crate of Legos has crashed in the plaything area of Walmart.

“Clean-up in Aisle 5,” said Cathy Hagadorn, executive supervisor of the Deer Pond Farm nature sanctuary in Sherman, had by the Connecticut Audubon Society.

Just it’s the green-brown husks of hickory nuts littering Deer Pond Farm’s hiking trails. By many accounts, the state’ hickories are having a fall bonanza – a mast year, when they create nuts by the bushel.

“It’s a bumper plant,” said Sean McNamara, owner of the Redding Baby room. “It’s great information.”

However, mast years are not always uniform. Bruce Bartlett, Kent’s tree warden, said the hickory nut mess he’s seen is noticeable, however not as thick as various other years.

“I would certainly say it’s moderate,” said Bartlett, that stays in Cornwall. “However it exists.”

Nut masts years are what maintain the natural globe alive in Connecticut.

Rats rely on them to assist them make it via the winter season. Squirrels, blue Jays and red-bellied woodpeckers cache them, concealing them away for midwinter rations. Wild turkey, deer and black bear all graze on what’s fallen on the ground.

Consequently, the animals that eat mice and voles and chipmunks earnings. If the rats are fat and happy and increasing, foxes, bobcats and prairie wolves, hawks and owls alike will certainly have easy pickings.

Because oak trees are one of the predominant trees in the state woodland, their acorns, in mast years, are an ecological Thanksgiving. There’s food for everyone.

This year, it’s spottier.

J.P. Barsky, a research technician with the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station in New Haven, is keeping track of 12 sites in the state for the acorn plants. In some places, like the Northwest Corner, it’s on the spare side. In Southbury, there’s a lot of acorns.

Barskey said the oaks in eastern Connecticut – strike hard by dry spell and Gypsy moth defoliation in past years – are recuperating perfectly, with a good acorn plant.

As for hickory nuts, nobody’s examining them.

“However anecdotally, I’m seeing them,” Barsky said. “I’m a weekend warrior and I head out on my bike and they’re on the road.”

There are 4 native varieties of hickory trees in the – shagbark, pignut, mockernut and bitternut.

Hickory trees don’t expand in groves. Instead, they usually stand out amidst the surrounding hardwoods.

McNamara, of Redding Baby room, said that in the 19th century, farmers clearing their land for areas would certainly spare hickories and oaks, after that feed their nuts to their pigs – for this reason pignuts.

“That’s why you’ll see large hickories and oaks standing alongside old stone walls, “he said.”The farmers left them there for nut manufacturing.”Wild animals rushes to harvest the nuts as well. Hagadorn, of Deer Fish pond Farm, said that along with the hickory nuts on the sanctuary trails, there are a lot of scurriers carrying away the bounty.

“It resembles Mardi Gras for the animals available,” she said.

Shagbark hickory trees are typical in the state in north Fairfield and southerly Litchfield areas. They obtain their name from their distinctive bark-shedding appearance – as they expand larger, the external layer of bark hardens and sheds. They appear like a tree in demand of a trim.

Shagbark and pignut – which are a lot more typical in the southern half of the state – are the most typical hickory trees in the state, and they’re nuts are the most edible, also for humans geared up with a hammer, a nutpick and some patience.

The nuts fall off the tree encased in thick environment-friendly husks. Their husks completely dry and split right into four quarters, revealing the nut inside.

Hickory wood is hard – great for device handles, firewood, furniture and hardwood floors. Andrew Jackson was known as Old Hickory because of his durability – the only head of state with an arboricultural nickname.

Because trees expand and stay in place for decades, a shift in woodland varieties can take a long time.

Climate change may make that happen in Connecticut.

The state’s Northwest Corner has a Northern hardwood woodland, dominated by maples, beech and birch.

The southerly half of the state has a southern, oak-hickory woodland. In time, as climate change makes points warmer, that oak-hickory woodland may gradually supplant the north maple and birch.

Shagbark hickories – while a bit unclean – ought to rate. Along with nuts, their slags of dried bark sanctuary overwintering insects that tree-clambering birds like nuthatches can eat as well.