Monday, August 24, 2009

Precocious Little Tree

(Click on images to enlarge)

We're always told that if you plant an oak you can expect to wait 15 to 20 years before it begins to produce acorns. Somehow this little tree didn't get the memo!

On Friday I visited Knecht's Nursery here in Northfield, MN. Owner Leif Knecht showed me some young - very young, as in perhaps 2-3 years since grafting - hybrid oaks that are already bearing acorns! These trees are white oak / English oak crosses (Q. alba x robur). Notice the diameter of the trunk as compared to the size of the acorns and the diameter of the 5/8" bamboo support stake. Whenever somone mentions oaks as a potential human food or forage crop farmed on a commerical scale, the 15 to 20 year time lag is always mentioned - sometimes by the proponents of the idea themselves who reluctantly mention the time lag probably in an effort to prove that they are not complete head-in-the-clouds nut-jobs (luckily I have not such reservations!) - as a reason why the idea is not practical.

To which I say: Oh, really? True, the half dozen acorns on each of these trees hardly constitute a commerical crop, but given their early maturity and the fast growth we know oaks are capable of, is there any question that these trees will be pumping out significant volumes of acorns within a few years??

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