Theories on this year’s seemingly massive acorn drop


If your car’s roof could speak, it would probably say something like “Ouch!” or “Hey, cut that out!” as acorn after acorn bounces off it this fall.

Just about everyone seems to agree the amount of acorns falling this year is among the highest they can remember. Jonathan Shipman, a board-certified master arborist with Shamrock Tree Company in Mattituck, thinks he knows why.

“Acorns are known to drop here early every three to five years,” he said. “It’s kind of a cyclic thing. But it can easily be triggered by drought, and this summer was particularly dry. So it’s not uncommon for trees that need to preserve carbohydrates to actually drop their fruit or acorns early.”

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has a similar theory.

“Acorn production is cyclic,” a DEC spokesperson said in a statement. “Usually every five to eight years a mast (large) crop is produced, but the climatic conditions need to be right. This was not considered a mast year, although acorn production in July and August was high across New York State. This was due to a lack of rain. In addition, acorn production was delayed due to late frosts, which hindered new growth in the spring.”

Bill Van Helmond of WCVH Landscaping in Jamesport called this year’s totals “out of this world.”

“It’s hard to clean them up, but we usually don’t start until after Thanksgiving — and by that time, the squirrels and the small animals have gotten the bulk of the food,” he said.

Mr. Shipman said he doesn’t believe the increase is a predictor of a cold winter, dismissing that belief as an “old wives tale.”

Even so, it has been one loud autumn for Riverhead resident Doug Wald.

“I live in a wooded area, and it sounds like somebody is walking on my roof firing a nail gun all day,” he said. I feel like I’m under acorn siege all the time.”

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Photo credit: Monique Singh-Roy