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Acorn Abundance



The East Bay was going nuts this fall. Literally.

Oak trees throughout the area spent much of the past months dumping a huge crop of acorns on local lawns and roads. Scientists have discounted the possibility that a profusion of acorns could be related to global warming or disease, prompting us at Diablo to ponder another explanation: the old wives’ tale that an abundance of acorns foretells a harsh winter.

“The theory is that the more acorns that fall, the more food there is for the squirrels to run and stash,” says Sandi Duncan, managing editor of the Farmer’s Almanac. “It’s Mother Nature giving them food [for a long winter].”

Don’t start unpacking the parkas just yet. Duncan says that the Almanac predicts a warm winter for Northern California this year. And scientists agree that the connection is questionable.

“I’d have to be skeptical about that [theory],” says Heath Bartosh, a botanist at Nomad Ecology in Martinez, who suggests that heavy acorn production is more likely related to last winter’s dry weather. “Low moisture conditions may cause the trees to release seeds because they think we’re entering a drought and they need to reproduce now.”

One thing’s for sure: No matter how much rain comes this winter, East Bay squirrels will be fat and happy.

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