Life & Style
What is a Mast Year?
During mast years, trees supercharge the output of acorns and nuts—apparently by agreement among themselves. It’s an unpredictable phenomenon that occurs in three- to five-year cycles. The trees seem to communicate in secret among their kind, oak to oak and beech to beech. Furthermore, masting is regional. It can be a mast year in one part of the state and not another.
Mast years are often noticed first in early summer. Mast years can be bad for hunters because deer have lots of food during hunting season and tend to stay in place rather than roam.
Mast years are good for property owners, however, because the presence of acorns and nuts discourages browsing on landscape plants—at least until the mast runs out.
Forest ecologists and other students of plant life have deduced that “masting” is part of a larger survival strategy.