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Name: Chris
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Question:
Thanks for answering our other question about our oak acorns. Last fall our Red Oak Tree dropped its acorns and my 3 children and myself planted them this spring in small cups and have wire over them to protect it from animals. We have not had one of our many (more than 100) cups produce a sprout. I have tried to keep them watered but as hot as it has been and with vacations we have let them get dry for several days. I believe they should have germinated this spring after we planted them. What have we done wrong? Also I am worried about the winter. How should we protect them from the elements? If they do sprout will the cold effect them for next spring? If not?


Replies:
Possibly helpful. The acorns might have required a cold treatment (to simulate wintering):

http://www.stolaf.edu/depts/biology/mnps/papers/reed1999183.html

Sincerely,

Anthony R. Brach,PhD


Dear Chris,

If the Red Oak is relatively native to your area, it has the physiological capability to produce seed that germinate and grow into saplings under the typical natural growth conditions. Many seeds have a dormancy period. The length is defined by different factors for different seeds. For some weeds, light will trigger germination. Whatever environmental conditions that occur between the formation of a mature seed and seed germination in nature are potential triggers for germination. My guess for the oak is a cold treatment. The triggers allow a seed to coordinate its germination with a specific time or condition in the year that will increase its odds for survival.

Jim Tokuhisa, Ph.D



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