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No Acorns, Again!

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One of the most common sounds of late summer around my house is the thunk and clattering roll of an acorn dropping on my roof. But autumn is almost here, and once again the oak trees around my house have not produced acorns. I noticed something else about my oaks—they have been dropping leaves since mid-summer. Anyone who has an oak on their property knows that these trees are the last to shed their leaves.

I wondered what was happening to the oak trees, so I contacted Professor Mark Ashton, a forest ecologist at Yale University. He explained that the leaves are falling early because of the lack of water in recent months. Connecticut is not in a severe drought but we have had a significant lack of rain this year.

The lack of acorns is caused by a more complex set of factors, according to Professor Ashton. The trees around my house are red oaks, and it takes two years for acorns to mature in this species. So, if there are no acorns this year it is because of something that happened two years ago. The cause is usually be poor pollination of the tree's flowers due to wet or cold in early spring. Another thing that affects acorn production is the carbohydrate reserves (ie: food reserves) of the trees.

I assumed the lack of acorns was regional, but apparently this is not so. Yesterday morning a New York-based weather reporter commented in passing about the bumper crop of acorns at his home in New Jersey. He went on to say that lots of acorns often means a cold winter. So here is my prediction: a cold winter in New Jersey, and a warm winter in Connecticut. At least around my house . . .

Do you have oak trees? Do you have lots, some, or very few acorns?

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Interesting situation. Here is a link that has information about possible additional factors.

Susan, I had no idea that this year's acorn crop was stemmed two years ago.  What an interesting fact!  

We don't have any oak trees on our property. We do have a growing sycamore tree with lots of thistles; its leaves were turning brown and falling off extra early this year, too. I wonder if it subscribes to the same maladies as the oak.