published Saturday, September 22nd, 2012

Garden Tips: Why all the tree nuts this year?

An abundance of nuts this fall means plenty of food for squirrels but is not necessarily a predictor of a harsh winter.
An abundance of nuts this fall means plenty of food for squirrels but is not necessarily a predictor of a harsh winter.
Photo by Staff File Photo.

Trees going a little nuts?

If you've noticed more acorns, walnuts and pecans falling from the trees to the ground lately, Tom Stebbins can help you understand why.

"We had such a beautiful spring and good pollination, so the trees are somewhat overloaded," said Stebbins, a master gardener and gardening specialist at the University of Tennessee Extension.

Stebbins said he recently spoke to a man who noticed his pecans do not have a full nut on the inside.

"There were so many on the tree they couldn't all mature," Stebbins said, "so now the tree is dropping some of those they couldn't support."

Some trees, Stebbins said, will tend to pollinate more strongly some years and then have weaker pollination the following year.

This should not, however, be necessarily perceived as a negative.

"A lot of the reserves can go into the root system for the following year," Stebbins said.

And what about the myth that falling acorns mean a harsh winter?

"I enjoy those myths, but there's not much science to that," Stebbins said. "I think that's part of the lore of nature."

One crop of nut trees is facing a greater dilemma. Thousand canker disease, a progressive disease caused by fungus from twig beetles, is threatening the walnut trees in Tennessee.

A solution is not known, though the production of some systemic insecticides are in progress.

"We don't know exactly what can control it," said Stebbins, "but right now we don't have a good control."

about Holly Leber ...

Holly Leber is a reporter and columnist for the Life section. She has worked at the Times Free Press since March 2008. Holly covers “everything but the kitchen sink" when it comes to features: the arts, young adults, classical music, art, fitness, home, gardening and food. She writes the popular and sometimes-controversial column Love and Other Indoor Sports. Holly calls both New York City and Saratoga Springs, NY home. She earned a bachelor of arts ...

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