Duck Creek CA UpdatesMore posts

Fall Harvest Cropping Up

Oct 10, 2014

Revised Date

Oct 10, 2014

As we flip the calendar forward into October and feel the cool nights, farmers are busy in the fields harvesting their crops.  In the timber a different type of crop is ripening and it is time to evaluate the extent of acorns in the bottomland forest canopy. 

Good News

Our forester annually surveys the acorn production at Duck Creek.  This helps keep track of the fall food supplies and the potential cohort of tomorrow’s trees. The acorn crop of 2014 is overall one of the best mast crops for the red oaks that we have seen in several years.  There is always some variation in the trees, with a few having high densities of nuts and a others carrying low densities.  However, it looks like it is an outstanding year for the red oaks.  Actually, out of the four oak species surveyed, over half of these trees have a medium to heavy crop of acorns. This is drastically different from last year which found the majority of the trees with a light crop. 

Variation in the Red Oaks:

Pin, willow, and cherry bark oaks are all in the red oak family. Like other trees these oak species naturally cycle through years of high and low production.  As with many things in nature, even variability isn’t always predictable.  To throw in another wrinkle, annual production can be masked or influenced by other events.  For example, to produce acorns the pollination of red oaks must occur during the previous spring.  Therefore, the negative effects of a late spring freeze may be felt until the next fall.  Other times natural events can have immediate negative effects, like a strong summer storm that can bring down branches and immature nuts to the ground.  In the past few years we’ve experience both of these scenarios.  However, during the last two springs and this summer we’ve been in the clear and the red oak acorns look good.

Variation in the White Oaks:

Overcups are in the white oak family and more of a year to year type mast crop. Pollination takes place in the spring and the mast is produced that fall.  However, like the red oaks, there usually is some variation each year.  This fall there was a lot of variation from tree to tree, or within the crown of an individual tree, but it was still better than last year.

It is hard to know what will happen from one year to the next.  Plants and animals have adapted strategies for them to be successful in the long-run and get by during the hard years, which is why we monitor and keep track of trends.  This fall the high number of acorns will be good for foraging wildlife.  Next year we’ll have to keep watch to see if there is a strong cohort of seedlings that have germinated in the understory.  Whether it is native foods like acorns or moist soil or agricultural crops, there isn’t ever a guaranteed sure thing, which makes years of good production something to be grateful for. This fall is one of those years where we can look up to the trees and smile.


2014 Duck Creek Mast Production
2014 Duck Creek Mast Production
The 2014 acorn crop at Duck Creek is very good with over half of the trees having medium to heavy crops.


Bottomland Forest Canopy
Foresters scan the canopy of the trees prior to the fall to estimate the annual acorn production.


In terms of using a john boat for youth season, you'll need to check with staff at the morning draw. 

Hopefully, the work on the fish ponds, C blind, grim tract, and some work on the edges of Pools 2 and 3 will begin next summer. Along with those engineering plans we hope to put an ADA blind in on the south corner of 16 in Unit A.

H2 blind will not be replaced. That being said there are still currently 28 blinds on the area.

When will work begin on fish ponds, and c blind? And what about the few pits/blinds that have been mentioned for unit a?

Will the blind be put back in H2, I don't think we can afford to loose any more blinds. We are running out of good positions to take young children.

May we borrow a Jon boat from fishing jetty if we put it back for unit a for youth season

While the fall colors are indicators of the trees preparing themselves to go dormant for the season, it isn’t the singular green light that says it is okay to put the roots under water. The smaller trees, the ones we need to recruit into the overstory in the future, typically hold on to their leaves a little longer in the fall and aren’t as apparent from the road.  This is a priority to ensure that we have forests for the next generation to enjoy. A more reliable metric for tree growth in fall is soil temperatures.  The roots of pin and willow oak typically shut down when soil temperatures reach 38 degrees.   

Waterfowl numbers will be posted under Waterfowl Hunting->Reporting->Waterfowl and Habitat Survey ( Biologists are doing surveys today, the numbers will be tallied on Tuesday, and posted this Wednesday.

For the weekend youth hunt it looks like there will be 19 positions available on Duck Creek and a couple up at Dark Cypress.  I plan on putting a post up on this in the next couple days as well. 

Boats with a shallow draft can be used in Units A and B, but are not provided.  Being able to launch a boat directly from the parking lot depends on the hunting position. Jon boats are provided to the blinds in Pools 2 and 3 during the regular season.

I am in the process of putting a post together on the Greenbrier Unit and should have it up later this week. 

Pool 7 hunting conditions are the same as Pool 8. H2 blind has been torn down.  This position will be offered as a walk-in position, similar to D1.

The area regulation is that hunting of other wildlife is prohibited, except in designated areas, from October 15 to the end of the area’s prescribed waterfowl season.  Therefore, October 14th was the last day to hunt small game until February 1st when Goose Season is over. 

Has your tree expert checked the oak trees as of October19th. On a recent drive I noticed the wonderful fall colors. Trees everywhere (Oak trees included) are changing colors and dropping leaves. Is this not exactly the conditions desired to start flooding pools 2 and 3? FALL HAS COME EARLIER THIS YEAR!!!

Any idea on how many ducks are on duck creek? And an estimate on how many positions will be available for youth season and draw time? Lastly, is unit A boat accessible? Thanks

Could you provide us an overview of the work that has been done, and will be done at GreenBrier unit. Maybe a separate post with pictures or diagrams? Thanks

Just for the record was it sundown on October 15th that squirrel hunting ceased? And will squirrel season reopen at the end of the duck season in December? Any news on hunting conditions in pool 7? Were there any repairs done to Blind H2 in Pool 2?

In case you missed it on a previous post, as of  October 15th this week, squirrel hunting is closed. The only exception is archery deer hunting.

That is correct. The blinds in Pools 2 and 3 will not be hunted during opening weekend.  However, this isn’t new. The number of flooded positions available at the beginning of waterfowl season at Duck Creek has varied over the years. We’ve had everything from construction to not enough water in the lake because of drought conditions.  One consistent factor that has influenced our decisions has been forest health.  We haven’t flooded pools or portions of pools at the beginning of the season during certain years to reduce the stress that flooding too early can cause on certain species of trees. Usually it is the pin oaks we are worried about because they are less flood tolerant.  This year, despite the good mast production, many of the overcups have been infected by a mysterious infection that has caused chunks of bark to fall of big sections of the tree trunks.  Knowing that flooding the trees too early is an annual concern is one of the reasons we flood the open habitat in Units A and B, to provide habitat for early migratory waterfowl and hunting opportunity.  The wetland vegetation and food associated in these open habitats is what the early migrants, like the pintail and teal, that have begun to show up desire.  Unfortunately, nature isn’t always predictable and can’t be pinned into a particular date.  Flooding of Pools 2 and 3 will have to wait at least for the first couple of weeks. I hope you understand. you are saying that there will be no spots available in Pool 2 or 3 by the opener of duck season?? Thanks!

So is there currently no water sitting in pools 2 and 3? So those spots wont be in the draw opening weekend?

The pools in Units A and B have been slowly flooding from well water for the past month and with the exception of 19 and 53, all hunting positions currently have plenty of water to hunt. The well for 19 is currently topping off 14 and will be diverted north today or tomorrow. 53 will require another couple of significant rain events to fill it up, as there is no well currently capable of adding water here. There is plenty of water in Pool 1 to flood Pools 2 and 3 which will begin to be slowly released after the 1st or 2nd week of November. Dark Cypress did not flood over the levees. Greenbrier Unit construction site still belongs to the contractors. There is some finishing work yet to do and all the water control structures will remain open until this work can be completed. There is, however, a significant amount of ponded water on the area which will most likely remain through the season.

With the recent foul weather and lots of rain is any of the precipitation being diverted into pool 2 pool 3 or A and or B units? Did Dark Cypress flood in the last couple of days? Did the Greenbriar unit retain any water inside the new levee system???

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