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Do more acorns mean a harsh winter?

September 19, 2012|WDBJ7 Web Staff

Roanoke, Va — You've been sending us your photos of acorns, and lots of them.

Most come with the question: Do more acorns mean a harsh winter?

So is this fact or folklore?

There's always at least a little bit of truth behind some of the folklore.

We've found it realy just depends on who you ask.   

Long before the days of doppler radar, native Americans used the acorn crop to predict harsh or mild winters.The thought is that trees can foresee or "predict" the weather for the upcoming winter and provide enough nuts and acorns for all the animals to last them through the cold months.

"Rural people have always talked about looking for things like the Wooly Worm and things like that. But one thing that's pretty consistant is when there's a heavy mass of nuts and acorns, it ususally indicates that in some places that there's going to be a heavier winter," says park ranger Peter Givens.

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If that's true, you might be wondering why some oak trees in the same area produce more acorns than others. It's all about age and the tree's health.

Trees start producing acorns when they are between 20 and 50 years old. By the time the tree is 70, it will produce thousands of them.

Not even the healthiest and largest oak can get enough food and energy to produce the same size crops two years in a row. That's why acorn crops vary in size from year to year.

It's the weather from the previous year's winter and summer that determine how many acorns we'll see.

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