Many people believe a large acorn crop is a predictor of a harsh winter. The truth is, the acorns on the ground today are the prediction of weather conditions two or three years ago.
Bucknell University Professor of Biology Emeritus Warren G. Abrahamson, Ph.D and Executive Director of the Archbold Biological Station (located in Venus, Fla.) James N. Layne, Ph.D worked together on a study of acorn production during the years of 1969-1996 (with the exception of 1991).
The pair observed and recorded the acorn crops of two white oak and three red oak species.
"Jim Layne was really the one who got the project started," said Abrahamson. "He also was the one to make sure the data got collected each year."
The findings of the team may surprise you. In a published report dated September 2003, the research showed that the volume of acorn production each year is partly controlled by external factors like precipitation affecting the acorns during different stages of development during prior years.
Acorn production from bud to completed acorn takes nearly two years for species of the white oak and three years for species of the red/black oak, according to Abrahamson.
In 1989, the oaks in the study were subject to a freeze during the growth cycle. Only one species of oak, the Chapman Oak, was damaged. The damaged trees produced their third highest crop of acorns over the entire 27 year of the study in 1990.
The team reported that they did not experience a complete crop failure of any oak species during the study.
If you've noticed a lot of acorns around your house, Abrahamson who resides in Central Pennsylvania, said the Chestnut Oaks are producing them.
"I have never seen such a large crop in the 30 years I've lived here," he said. "Walking around my property is like walking on marbles."
The rainfall and temperatures in Central Pennsylvania during the springs of 2010-2012 have been favorable for acorn production. The table below list the precipitation and temperature totals for the months of March-May for each of the three years.
|Year||Avg. Precip.||Actual Precip.||Percent of Normal||Temp. Percent Above Norm.|
If favorable weather conditions for acorns mean a bumper crop two or three years later, the crops of 2013-2015 may bring some of the largest crops yet.
"Weather was a very important factor in the study," said Abrahamson. "The production of acorns definitely is not forecasting but hindcasting the weather."
Cyclonic Storm Kyant will unleash heavy rain and strong winds on areas from western Myanmar to northeastern India and Bangladesh this week.
Beneficial rain will douse California late this week, with the potential for some rain to reach southern portions of the state.
A storm will slide in from the Midwest to bring another dose of cold rain and wet snow to parts of the northeastern United States from Wednesday night to Thursday.
Flooding downpours and thunderstorms will target a part of the central United States from Tuesday afternoon into Wednesday.
The severe drought in the northeastern U.S. has left most of the region reeling for months as farmers have been forced to work with arid land.
Following a chilly World Series opener during Tuesday evening, a chilly rain may threaten play for Game 2 in Cleveland on Wednesday evening.
Strong coastal storm with winds exceeding 100 mph over the ocean; 82-mph wind gust at south end of Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel. Bethany Beach Delaware being evacuated as waves came over the dunes. Heavy snow in NC mountains. Mt. Pisgah - 11 inches; Mt. Mitchell - 6 inches.
Caribou, ME (1990)
19 consecutive days of measurable precipitation.
Ashford, CT (1758)
"The 25th day of Oct., 1758, a very stormy day of snow, the 26th snowed all day, storm held from Friday night until Saturday morning." by Ebeneser Byles, Town Clerk of Ashford.