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Mr. Smarty Plants - Why so many acorns in Houston?

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Monday - November 16, 2009

From: Bulverde, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Trees
Title: Why so many acorns in Houston?
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

My son's home in Houston has a Live Oak. This year it has dropped MILLIONs of the seed pods. This hasn't happened in the nine years of living there. Is anything wrong with it? It looks OK but he has raked up bags of them.

ANSWER:

There are any number of stories, legends and learned talk about why oaks seem to suddenly drop lots of acorns. These include wet weather, dry weather, hot weather, cold weather and squirrels chucking too many to the ground. From this arcytech.org website Interesting Facts About Oak Trees, we excerpted this information:

"Oak trees can start producing acorns when they are 20 years old, but sometimes can go all the way to 50 years for the first production. By the time the tree is 70 to 80 years old it will produce thousands of acorns.

The oak trees produce acorns once a year during the fall. Acorn production varies year to year and normally alternates. Not even the healthiest and largest oak can accumulate enough food and energy to produce strong crops two years in succession. Real strong acorn productions might happen every four to ten years. In addition, a late spring frost can blight the flowers which prevents acorn development. Droughts and insect ravages can decimate crops.

Acorn production will increase year after year; following a similar pattern as the size of the tree's canopy."

Perhaps when your son first moved into his home, the live oak tree was still too young to produce much in the way of acorns. You will note in the material above that strong acorn accumulation might happen every 10 years. We would say that the tree is obviously healthy, or it wouldn't be able to produce all those acorns, and there probably won't be another drop like that for maybe another ten years. Bet you have happy squirrels.

 

 

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