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Managing Mast Crops for Wildlife
Steven La Rivee March 2018
Mast crops are divided into two types. There is Soft Mast, which includes seeds, berries, fruits and catkins (clusters of cylindrical flowers). Then there is Hard Mast, which includes hard shelled seeds, nuts and twigs.
When managing mast crops for wildlife it is important to manage for multiple species, not a specific species. We also need to manage for all seasons. By providing mast crops that provide valuable food year round and providing a diverse selection of mast we can help multiple species with natural food sources while inproving the quality of our forests, hedgerows and fields.
Soft Mast is most often available during the spring, summer and fall depending on when the leaves or catkins are available or fruit and berries are ripe. Increasing the amount of soft mast will benefit many wildlife species which would include but are not limited to the following species: bear, deer, grouse, turkey, squirrels, chipmunks, fisher, fox, rodents and many songbirds.
Hard Mast is most often available during the fall and winter. Some hard mast could still be available through spring. An increase in the amount of hard mast will benefit many wildlife species which would include but are not limited to the following species: deer, bear, grouse, turkey, squirrels, chipmunks, fisher, rodents, blue jays, woodpeckers, grosbeaks, nuthatch, wood duck, etc.
Some soft mast producers to consider planting would include apples, blackberry, black cherry, blueberries, crabapple, dogwood, elderberry, grape, greenbrier, mulberry, pears, persimmon, plum, raspberry, rose, serviceberry, sumac, viburnam.
Some hard mast producers to consider planting would include american beech, birch, hazelnuts, hickory, oaks (both white and red), pine, black walnut