In light of the recent freeze there are many questions being asked about what this freeze will do to the trees and wildlife. This is a question that can't be answered from experience since it has been over 100 years since an event of this nature has occurred here in north Arkansas and extreme southern Missouri. So we will take an educated guess on what to expect.
The answer to the most common question is no the freeze did not and will not kill the trees. It only killed the new leaves and the new growth from this spring. The trees will leaf back out, but it will have reduced foliage, around half of the normal leaves. This also means reduced growth since there will be less photosynthesis. This will also put the trees into stress. This stress will be magnified if we have a dry summer.
If you don't already fertilize your lawn, your shade trees will benefit from applying one half cup to one cup 13-13-13 or any balanced fertilizer around the drip line. This will help keep the trees from being stressed. The best defense against disease and insects in timber is a healthy tree. Don't panic and let some unscrupulous person tell you to cut your timber before it gets bad, or that you have to spend thousands of dollars to save them. Just continue with your present forest management plan.
The nut crop for annual bearing trees is gone for this year. Whether it will have an effect on next year's crop, is one of those questions no one knows at this time. The oaks will be affected this way: the red oak acorns for this fall were already on the tree. They have been affected but it is too early to tell how badly. It will be reduced. Next year's red oak acorn crop is gone. It was destroyed by the freeze. The white oak acorns for this year is gone or heavily reduced. Next year's white oak acorn crop will come on, but due to lesser amount of foliage, the crop will most likely be reduced.
Depending on our weather this summer, trees in the woods will require little or no attention. Yard trees need the extra fertilizer and watch if weather conditions get dry and stressful. From a wildlife management perspective, the full effects are yet to be seen. Aside from the issues of hard mast reduction, there is late summer soft mast. Species that were flowering or had started to set fruit, such as wild plum and black cherry, will bear no fruit this year. There should be sufficient soft mast from late flowering species such as blackberry and huckleberry.
To help offset the effects of the freeze it will be beneficial to plant some good, cool-season food plots. Feeding wildlife is expensive; investing in food plots costs much less than feeding and provides a better more reliable, more nutritious food source. There are generally four types of food plants. The following is a list of food plot types and some food plant species.
* Yearly planting in the fall of winter wheat, cold hardy oats or a mixture of these.
* Yearly planting in the spring of a mixture of iron and clay peas or red ripper cow peas with alyse clover (reseeding annual) and joint vetch (reseeding annual). Also, planting corn and beans in the summer to leave fallow in fall. This will add an additional winter food source plus vertical cover.
* More permanent plots planted in the spring or fall with mixtures of red and white clover and/or crimson clover (reseeding annual) with alfagraze (perennial) with a nurse crop in the fall of the first year of wheat, oats or rye. For turkey and other birds Marion and Korean lespedeza is good to add in the spring and birds foot trefoil can be added in the spring or fall.
* The most permanent plots planted in early spring or fall of orchard grass mixed with arrowleaf clover (reseeding annual) in the fall, while alyce clover, joint vetch and lepedezas are good to add in the spring. Birdsfoot trefoil can be planted spring or fall.
For more information contact Larry ?Morris or Jimmy Wallace at M&W Forestry and Wildlife Services, 1445 Cold Creek Lane, Cave City, AR 72521 or phone 870-283-6646 or 870-613-3776.