Really, it’s literally raining nuts here in Florida, and I’m not talking about crazy people falling from the sky. For some unknown reason, the oaks are producing mass amounts of acorns this year.
It has to be the most prolific acorn season on record in the state of Florida, well, at least in our little neck of the woods. Since I’ve lived here (over 20 years) I have never seen so many acorns en masse, which led me to do some research on the subject to see if I could figure out why this year there are so many.
Old wives tales say that when there are lots of acorns in the fall it warns of a very cold winter coming, but there’s no scientific evidence to support that. Apparently, it’s not just in Florida either that tons of acorns are abound. I found a blog post from Beth Daley in Boston and she wrote up on the subject too. Here’s a snippet of what she found about oaks and acorn production,
” Oaks don’t produce acorns every year, scientists say. Trees tend to produce one bumper crop every two to seven years and then a small crop the following year, for reasons researchers still don’t fully understand. It can take two years for an acorn to form from an oak flower and a tree’s production likely hinges on everything from weather conditions at the time of the flowering to natural variance among trees. “-Beth Daley
Well, whatever the reason, the darn things are keeping us up at night. “Plunk, plunk, thwak!”, all day and all night. Look, I have nothing against being eco-conscious and I’m sure all the forest critters are happier than pigs in $@#, but it’s getting a bit ridiculous. Our home sits on an acre of land that is covered by a canopy of 100 year old live oaks, so I’m a little nervous to do any yard work as I just may come away with a concussion from getting pelted by thousands of the hard-cased nuts. I think I’ll just wait until the storm has passed before I venture out into our garden.
The squirrels, cardinals, jays, and deer are in their glory, eating until they are bursting at the seams. Just the other day a cute little squirrel padded over to me, stood up on his hind legs and smiled at me with a mouth crammed full of acorns. It was as if he was boasting of his bountiful catch, but because he smiled (or whatever he was doing), lost a couple nuts from his overflowing cheeks and almost had a seizure trying to fit them back in. I couldn’t help but laugh out loud at his antics, it was like he couldn’t get enough and was worried I’d try to take them from him. Just the thought of it cracks me up, those squirrels really are funny.
Maybe I should make some Korean Dotorimuk , (acorn jelly), or dotori gook soo (acorn noodles). If I did, maybe I could at least clear a path on my driveway.
I also found an article in Conservation Magazine that mentions the relationship of Lyme disease with the proliferation of acorns. ” What?“, I thought, that makes absolutely no sense, but check this out, here’s a snipped from the article,
” Richard Ostfeld, an ecologist with the Institute of Ecosystem Studies in Millbrook, New York suspected he might actually be able to predict people’s risk of contracting Lyme disease by observing, of all things, the abundance of acorns in the region in a given year. Acorns come in bursts, or “masts,” with almost none produced in some years and bumper crops produced in others. Ostfeld’s reasoning went like this: the more mice there were in an area, the more likely it would be that actively feeding ticks in that area would become infected. And since more mice would be drawn to the acorn-rich plots, a higher percentage of infected ticks would be found there. Acorns attract deer and mice, mice infect ticks, and infected ticks give people Lyme disease. People’s health was linked to acorn production. The year 1997 saw one of the most prolific acorn crops in the mid-Atlantic states in years. If Ostfeld’s theory was correct, the rate of infection should rise among people there in the second year after the mast. Indeed, 1999 saw the third-highest annual number of Lyme disease cases ever reported in the mid-Atlantic region. “
Great, just great. I take it that from the information above, then we really can expect the year 2012 to be the end of the world. Yep, Armageddon by Lyme disease. Perfect. Maybe those Mayans knew what they were talking about.
A Bit of Acorn Trivia from Foodreference.com:
-There are over 450 varieties of acorn, many of which have been used for food. They are native to all continents except Australia.
-In 1945 Japan organized school children to gather more than 1 million tons of acorns to make into flour due to dwindling stocks of rice and wheat.
-To use: Gather acorns when they are ripe, in autumn. Remove the shells and the caps, and boil the acorns for at least 2 hours, changing the water several times. This removes the bitterness. They may then be roasted in the oven for one hour or so at 350 degrees F. They are now ready to eat or ground into flour.
Resources & More Reading:
More about acorns;
Conservation Magazine’s article
Beth Daley’s Blog post on Boston.com
Acorn trivia from: http://www.foodreference.com/html/facorns.html