Acorns & winter weather: the connection

CLEVELAND - I got a question from a Facebook friend this week that I get a lot at this time each year. "Mark, I've got a lot of acorns in my yard right now. Does that mean a hard winter is coming?"

Can the amount and size of the acorns falling from the mighty oak tree in your back yard predict the coming winter's fury?

This folklore dates back hundreds of years. The idea is that nut & fruit producing trees know what type of weather is coming months before it hits. If the trees sense a harsh winter is on the way, they then produce an over abundance of fruit and nuts. This is probably just for the squirrels and deer.

The truth is trees have no such predictive power. The amount of acorns produced this summer and fall by any oak tree is more a measure of last summer's weather conditions. You see, trees and shrubs begin to form their growth and fruit buds for next year's crop during the months of July and August. If moisture and sunlight are plentiful, if growing conditions are good, then the tree sets lots of fruit buds for the next growing season.

That means the acorns falling from the trees this year are a direct result of LAST YEAR'S growing conditions. Last summer, we had lots of rain, with sunshine in between. Temperatures were warm as well. All in all, it was a great year for trees. Therefore, it was a great year for trees to set lots of new buds and flower blossoms. In turn, those blossoms bloomed and formed zillions of acorns this year.

Since this summer was dry, I would expect fewer fruit buds were set on the oak trees. That means fewer acorns in your yard NEXT summer and fall.

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