It began in August. Raining acorns. Hundreds of them a day. I was briefly hopeful, having a vague memory that when the oaks drop their acorns early, it signals a harsh winter. I’m all for it raining acorns if that means it might actually rain real rain at some point!
Hope was short-lived. Because all these acorns were green.
According to Farmers’ Almanac, “Acorns, when they’re ready to drop, are typically brown or tan in color. If your trees are shedding acorns prematurely it’s a sign that they are focusing their energy on other things rather than seed production.”
Things like California’s long-term drought, perhaps. The Farmers’ Almanac article goes on to state that “when the acorns are green and dropping early, it indicates the tree is under some kind of weather-related stress.”
The acorn deluge has steadily continued. It’s like having a carpet of marbles underfoot. Thwack thwack thwack as they hit the deck or the roof on the chicken pen with impressive force. I’ve taken to wearing a hat when I’m out under the oaks to cushion the blows. The critters, alas, are on their own.
“Don’t even think about trying to put a silly hat on me!”
As for rain, my hopes around that are, well, dampened, to say the least. In a September 6 article The Sacramento Bee quoted Farmers’ Almanac as predicting “mild temperatures and drier than normal conditions” for California in winter 2022-2023. Adding that Farmers’ Almanac boasts 80%-85% accuracy in their predictions, SacBee points out that these predictions align with experimental long-range forecasts from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Paul Ullrich, professor of regional and global climate modeling at the University of California, points to a persistent La Niña condition in the eastern Pacific. SacBee quotes him as expecting that this winter “will be much like the winter seasons for the past three years”, with a prediction of “anywhere from 50% to 75% of normal winter season precipitation.”
There is one sliver of a silver lining. A 2021 study published in PNAS (The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, studied a range of oak species in North America in regard to their resistance to drought. The results suggest that “oaks are far more drought tolerant than has previously been thought”. Nineteen species were studied and even those growing in California’s driest zones were found to have positive safety margins, “indicating that these oak species are not currently at risk.”
Since we essentially live in a small oak forest, this is good news! Still, I wish it would rain…