Dickinson Conservation tree sale focuses on mast

Orders for the Dickinson Conservation District’s annual tree sale are due Friday, April 6. In addition to nut trees and berry bushes, 15 types of fruit trees are available.

IRON MOUNTAIN — Folks may wonder why the Dickinson Conservation District sells not only native trees but also shrubs, berries and many apple trees at its annual tree sale.

It’s all about the mast.

Mast-producing trees and shrubs provide many benefits for wildlife, humans and the environment, which makes the annual tree sale an important part of the district’s conservation job.

Mast is the botanical name for the nuts, seeds, buds or fruits that provide important energy sources for wildlife and people as well.

There are two main types of mast. Hard mast includes hard nuts and seeds, such as acorns and walnuts. Soft mast includes berries and fruits, such as apples, crabapples, blueberries and serviceberries.

Both types are important year-round food sources for wildlife, but hard mast is especially valuable as a winter food source due to its higher energy content.

Soft mast, such as apples, have the advantage of being in fruit earlier and longer in the year … and have the human incentive of a good pie or healthy snack.

In addition to the several types of nut trees and berry bushes on the sales list, the Dickinson Conservation District would like to call attention to the 15 types of fruit trees available, ranging from the “bite-sized” chestnut crabapple to the Wolf River heritage apple, which ripens late and stores for months.

Add in the ever-popular Honey Crisp apple, and a new offering, the Frostbite apple, as well as pear, plum and cherry trees.

Staff has searched for the cold-hardiest stock they can find and have balanced ripening period and fruit character. The catalog lists whether they are early-, mid- or late-ripening — late are most beneficial to deer — and whether humans can best use them for eating fresh, cooking or both.

The 5-to-7-feet tall, bare root fruit trees are $30 each or five for $125, with good availability still remaining. Contact the district for an order form and catalog at 906-774-1550, ext. 180, or dickinsoncd@macd.org. Or go to the website and on-line store at www.dickinsoncd.org.

Orders must be placed by April 6. They can be picked up May 4 or 5 at the Dickinson County Fairgrounds or Coleman High School.