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Oak-kay! Acorns galore keep critters fed, homeowners shoveling

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If you live near an oak tree, this is the time of year you are most keenly aware of it.

In a season when rain has been sparse, the oaks seem to be raining down a bumper crop of acorns. In fact, a Department of Natural Resources official tells KARE-11 drought stress might be a factor in the trees generating so many acorns this year.

But DNR Forest Health Program coordinator Val Cervenka also tells the station acorn production tends to run in cycles, with an abundant year followed by a couple of sparse ones. This year, she says, is a big acorn year for the burr oaks in particular.

You don't have to tell that to Jerry Carlson. The St. Cloud Times outdoors columnist writes that he's been using a snow shovel to fill a five-gallon bucket every couple of days with the acorns the burr oak on his property is dropping. He's also watched the wildlife attracted to his yard graduate from chipmunks to turkeys to deer.

An article in the DNR's Conservation Volunteer from a few years back tells us that different species of oaks take turns having their big acorn years. Synchronizing production of their fruit (the acorn crop is technically called the mast) seems to have helped survival.

What to do with all the acorns? Here's a site that says you can use them in soup, bread, cake, or pasta.

Here's KARE-11's story:

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