KDKA meteorologist Ray Petelin is back with another science lesson!By Ray Petelin

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — This fall, you may have noticed that acorns have been falling by the bucket load. Some people look to what nature is doing now, to try to figure out what the weather will be in the future, so are these abundant acorns acting like crystal balls to look into the upcoming winter?

(Photo Credit: Ray Petelin)

The answer is “no”.  What you’re seeing with trees now is more of an indication of what happened to the tree in the past.  The PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources says red oak acorns take 2 years to develop, so this year’s abundant acorn drop has more to do with optimal conditions last year, which was a good pollination year with no late freeze.

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(Photo Credit: Ray Petelin)

My wife’s cousin, David Nilsen, is an arborist.  He tells me trees can communicate with each other, too.  Not like texting or chatting online, though.  They communicate through chemistry. These chemicals are released in the air and in their root systems, and the trees can tell the other trees to produce a big acorn crop.  David says it is their way of making sure the ecosystem is healthy.

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(Photo Credit: Kathy Hostetter)

This is important for several types of animals — and larva. As gross sounding as larva is, the different types of larva that eat acorns are a major component of the diet of baby birds in the Spring.

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(Photo Credit: Ray Petelin)

Now you know why we’re seeing so many acorns fall this year.  Isn’t that “nuts”?  I couldn’t help myself!

(Photo Credit: Ray Petelin)