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#114742 - 10/30/03 03:15 PM Nuts!
dxb Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 03/06/02
Posts: 1692
Loc: UK
Not about words and not strictly animals, I know, but trees need space here too! And the squirrels are busy…

We are having an incredible autumn here, the trees are magnificent in colour but we are desperately short of rain. Some of our local woods must be tinder dry. Thankfully we haven’t had any fire-bugs at play, unlike poor southern California.

I have noticed that the oaks and horse chestnuts have produced huge quantities of nuts this year, although the ‘conkers’ are mostly not very large. We have a pair of big oaks in our garden and the ground beneath is a real carpet of acorns. I am wondering if trees produce nuts in this way if they are under stress from a dry summer. Putting their energy into producing seeds rather than thickening up the trunk. A survival ploy in fact, a reaction to ensure that if the parent tree dies there will be plenty of chance for saplings to spring up. Does anyone know anything about this? I have asked around and found no answers.



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#114743 - 10/30/03 04:01 PM Re: Nuts!
wwh Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 01/18/01
Posts: 13858
Dear dxb: The acorn crop size would be determined early in the year, it seems to me. I was told by a landscaper that severeing roots close to drip line in evergreens will made them produce cones. I remember an apple tree that doubled its yield just before it fell over from internal rot. I can't think of anything that would influence size of acorn crop except favorable conditions in spring, but I have no idea what the favorable conditions might be.


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#114744 - 10/30/03 06:25 PM Re: Nuts!
Wordwind Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 09/30/01
Posts: 6296
Loc: Piedmont Region of Virginia, U...
I agree that amount of rain could affect the output of acorns from what I've observed here on the farm over the last three years.

We had a bumper crop last year--the biggest I've ever seen and the biggest my aged parents had ever seen. It was wall-to-wall acorn; it was as though someone had opened up a ten-acre-across, enormous can of acorns; it was ten acres of acorn macrame, and I ain't foolin' 'round with the accent.

Anyway, that acorn crop followed a very dry season. This past summer was extremely wet--and we haven't many acorns. Of course, this could be a classic example of post hoc ergo propter hoc.

The old wives say that when the acorn crop is heavy, there will be a hard winter. We had a very hard winter--the hardest in years. Post hoc ergo propter hoc. Perhaps.

Anyway, based on the old wives, we should have a mild winter. We'll see. If we have a mild winter, then there you go!!!! The old wives were right!!!! That is until we have a season of few acorns followed by a hard winter. The old wives will say, "Yeah, but the wooly worms were heavily coated, and wooly worms can rule acorn thin acorn crop!"

However, all that old wives' tales information aside, if your acorn crop is heavy, do notice whether it's a white acorn crop or a red one. If it's the white acorn crop, then David Attenborough says the gray squirrels will be biting the germinating end off the white acorns like crazy. That is, if you have gray squirrels where you live. They might just be all-American squirrels. He didn't mention other species of squirrels and their various predilection towards biting off the germinating ends of white acorns in bumper crop years.


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#114745 - 10/30/03 08:34 PM Re: Nuts!
Zed Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 08/27/02
Posts: 2154
Loc: British Columbia, Canada
Perhaps there are lots of potential acorns every year but a wet or harsh year knocks them off the trees as buds. Just guessing.
I did read that in the biosphere the trees all grew very tall and skinny and then fell over. Without the stress caused by wind the trunks never bothered to get thick and strong and they couldn't hold their own weight. So the biospherians had to go shaking trees to simulate wind and stimulate growth. All of which has nothing to do with acorns but it amused me.


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#114746 - 10/31/03 08:10 AM Re: Nuts!
wwh Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 01/18/01
Posts: 13858
Dear Zed: one of the first things I learned in botany was that there has to be a balance between shoot (trunk and branches) and root. I strongly suspect conditions in biosphere allowed branches to grow extra rapidly, without a corresponding increase in roots, so that tree got topheavy.


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#114747 - 10/31/03 08:17 AM Re: Nuts!
of troy Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 10/17/00
Posts: 5400
Loc: rego park
So the biospherians had to go shaking trees to simulate wind and stimulate growth. All of which has nothing to do with acorns but it amused me.

an early american adage says:
A mule, a woman, a hickory tree,
the more you beat them, the better they be.

it's true for hickory trees (pecan's are member of the hickory family)-- beating the trunk, not so hard as to break the bark, but firmly none the less, stimulated production of nuts.

i think there is still a lot we don't know about what improves/contols nut/fruit production in lots of trees.

_________________________
my other obsession

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#114748 - 11/03/03 09:55 AM Re: Nuts!
dxb Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 03/06/02
Posts: 1692
Loc: UK
In old England the rhyme referred to a woman, a spaniel and a walnut tree which, I guess, is also related to the pecan. There is a short story by Dornford Yates that uses this verse as a recurring refrain in a dream about a murdered wife.


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#114749 - 11/03/03 02:38 PM Re: Nuts!
Wordwind Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 09/30/01
Posts: 6296
Loc: Piedmont Region of Virginia, U...
Actually, the pecans and hickories are part of the walnut family, Juglandaceae. There are many species within that family, and the pecan and hickory share the same genus, Carya. Just recently on a capitalization quiz, I included Carya tomentosa because I do like those tomentosa species--just fun to say. The walnuts within this family are in the various Juglans genera.

Although I've never seen anyone beat a hickory, I have a cross section of a hickory tree in which the tree has grown all around a nut. It is a very interesting cross section because it looks as though the nut grew inside the tree, but the most probable explanation is a squirrel found a hole in the tree, deposited the nut in the hole, and, over time, the tree grew around the nut in the little hole.


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#114750 - 11/03/03 06:55 PM Re: Nuts!
Zed Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 08/27/02
Posts: 2154
Loc: British Columbia, Canada
Although I've never seen anyone beat a hickory, I have a cross section of a hickory tree in which the tree has grown all around a nut. It is a very interesting cross section because it looks as though the nut grew inside the tree, but the most probable explanation is a squirrel found a hole in the tree, deposited the nut in the hole, and, over time, the tree grew around the nut in the little hole
A hole new meaning for the grain of the wood
I forgot to mention in the biosphere it was actually the trunks that broke rather than the tree falling.


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#114751 - 11/03/03 07:22 PM Re: Nuts!
wwh Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 01/18/01
Posts: 13858
Dear WW: I have an idea that a nut embedded in the hickory cross section was one a bird hid in crevice of bark, close enough to the cambium (?the rapidly growing layer) to become surrounded. I think the nuthatches may do this, but I don't have my bird CD installed on new computer. I'll try searching about this.

Hey, WW! Have I got a URL for you! Shows nuthatch doing it!

http://www.fcps.k12.va.us/StratfordLandingES/Ecology/mpages/white-breasted_nuthatch.htm


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