UNDATED (WJON News) — Oak trees are dropping an abundance of acorns this year and many people believe it is a way that the trees are protecting their species during the drought.
But, a forestry specialist with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources says that’s likely not the case. Mike Reinikainen is the Silviculture Program Coordinator for the DNR. He says oak masting is a cycle of nature where oak trees produce bumper crops of acorns every few years.
They’re kind of in this dance with seed predators and the thought is that they are able to overcome their seed predators by putting out a lot of seed at once. At the same time, they take breaks for years when they’re not producing a lot of seed. That population of seed predators drops and then they throw a lot of seeds out again all at once to overwhelm what’s there for seed predators and grow oak trees again.
He says it would be different if the acorns were green and were smaller than normal. Then, the tree likely stopped producing seeds as a result of the drought stress and dropped them early. Reinikainen says that’s not the case this year with mature acorns falling at the normal time of the season.
Furthermore, he says there is no evidence to suggest acorns damage your lawn by changing the pH balance of the soil, but most people rake them up as a matter of comfort for bare feet or because they’re unsightly.