This Year's Walnut Crop is Nuts
There are nuts everywhere on campus this fall - acorns and walnuts that is. It appears to be a banner year for the fruits that fall from above.
Why so many? Leah Knapp, professor of biology, wrote in an email, “It is likely that a lot of variables are involved - how much energy the trees have stored up (large seeds like acorns take lots of energy). It is somewhat variable depending on species of tree - my impression (though I haven't really paid attention) is that it may be more the white oaks than others doing this, but I need to look more closely. Weather, both short and long term come into play.”
The Farmers’ Almanac, which has been published since 1818, is a traditional weather prognosticator. Almanac writer Sandi Duncan said long-observed signs of a bad winter to come, like lots of nuts, can’t be dismissed.
“…it’s hard to hard to discount all of these ‘natural forecasters,’ especially when most of them are based on years of observation,” Duncan wrote. Other signs of a long, cold winter? Duncan notes trees presenting green leaves until late fall and spiders spinning “larger than usual webs.”
Knapp wrote that the copious production of acorns and walnuts in one season is called masting.
An Oct. 7 story in the Lansing State Journal by writer Frank Witsil said the last masting year was 2010.
Abundant nuts are a treat for Olivet’s black squirrels and a nuisance for groundskeepers. But they are of little threat. According to the city officials in Toronto, Canada, “…it has no record of anyone ever being hurt by a falling walnut.” The 2017 article points out that trees are native to the region, as they are in Michigan, and support animals. The Michigan DNR estimates that there are over eight million black walnut trees in the state.