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Jamie's acorn offer [in "what's the point... ']

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  • John Warner
    Hello Jamie and Fukuokans, all! What a splendid offer! Thanks much, Jamie. Indeed, much can be accomplished through cooperation and Jamie s offer really got
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 23, 2003
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      Hello Jamie and Fukuokans, all!

      What a splendid offer! Thanks much, Jamie. Indeed, much can be accomplished through cooperation and Jamie's offer really got my attention as I had been thinking of surrounding my 2 acre property with a boundary of food trees that could be expected to survive and produce without irrigation here near Fresno, California, should electric service be disrupted or become rationed at some future time. Olives came immediately to mind since there is a commercial orchard just two miles from my property [a struggling commercial venture in these days of global markets and generous government subsidies to growers in the European Union]. Picturing yields of 1000 pounds a year for Valencia oranges, 600 for navels, I checked olive yields out on the web and found them to be only about 80. And, of course, the require a curing process not too much unlike the process required for ordinary acorns.

      I've got interested in acorn eating [which has a fancy name ending in "-gamy" that I can't recall at the moment] a number of years ago when I was teaching classes in California native plants. I can recall hiking in the mountains north of Los Angeles and finding acorns of Quercus chryosolepis, the goldencup oak, so thick on the trail that they were a serious impediment to walking. The acorns of some of these trees were sweet enough to be tolerable, in small quantities, for eating directly off the tree, Yet, returning to the same canyon at the same time on other years, there was not an acorn to be found! Oaks are alternate bearing.

      As to alternate bearing, in thinking about it, I developed a survival theory [as far as oak populations are concerned]--but more likely I read it in some source long forgotten and then, when the idea come back, gave myself the credit! But, in any case, it goes like this: Since natural populations are limited, for the most part, by their food supply, the populations of acorn-eaters will be limited by the quantity of acorns available for eating. If there was a uniform supply year after year, the populations, of squirrels for example, would expand to the point that all acorns would be consumed every year. Alternate bearing starves them out on low-bearing years and insures an uneaten surplus in the more fruitful years.

      [As an aside to this, I would give my forestry students a little riddle: Standing under a fruitful oak, I'd say, "Just look at all these acorns! Now, to maintain the oak population as it presently is in this area, how many will grow to mature trees just like this one?" Correct answer--one.]

      But back to the farm, I'm picturing 80 or so sweet acorn holly oaks surrounding my property that might serve as a genepool for selection and distribution in this area [we have a California nursery license]. Holly oaks do well here. In fact, they come up like weeds from acorns that come in with the mulch the gardener brings from his client's yards in Fresno. I would, however, rogue out those volunteers to keep the imported genepool clean. I'm wondering, Jamie, if the variety you have is from a natural population of similar trees or is more the product of human selection.

      Jamie, I'll contacting you by personal email. Thank you again and best wishes to all of you.


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