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The case of the missing acorns


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Posted by Joe Sudbay on AmericaBlog:

 

Interesting article in today's Washington Post about the dearth of acorns this year. I've been noticing the squirrels in my local park seem pretty thin for this time of year. There are no acorns:

 

The idea seemed too crazy to Rod Simmons, a measured, careful field botanist. Naturalists in Arlington County couldn't find any acorns. None. No hickory nuts, either. Then he went out to look for himself. He came up with nothing. Nothing crunched underfoot. Nothing hit him on the head.

 

Then calls started coming in about crazy squirrels. Starving, skinny squirrels eating garbage, inhaling bird feed, greedily demolishing pumpkins. Squirrels boldly scampering into the road. And a lot more calls about squirrel roadkill.

 

But Simmons really got spooked when he was teaching a class on identifying oak and hickory trees late last month. For 2 1/2 miles, Simmons and other naturalists hiked through Northern Virginia oak and hickory forests. They sifted through leaves on the ground, dug in the dirt and peered into the tree canopies. Nothing.

 

"I'm used to seeing so many acorns around and out in the field, it's something I just didn't believe," he said. "But this is not just not a good year for oaks. It's a zero year. There's zero production. I've never seen anything like this before."

 

Where the heck are the acorns?

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I just spent the day hiking in the chapparel, and noted the same thing. Here in CA, the oaks and pines are noted for producing little to no seed when a drought is imminent, and there was nary an acorn nor pinecone to be seen.

 

How the trees know there's not going to be rain this year, I have not a clue, but they sure'nuff know!

 

Of course, we're already in a drought... maybe they're just guessing.

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