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Increased Plant Growth In 2013


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2013 saw a burst of plant growth, including nuts and fruit, in the UK - could it be down to the alternating weather we’ve had of heavy rain, followed by bright sunshine, increasing transpiration through capillary action? Is this something that horticulturists take advantage of, to increase growth of plants undercover?

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2013 saw a burst of plant growth, including nuts and fruit, in the UK - could it be down to the alternating weather we’ve had of heavy rain, followed by bright sunshine, increasing transpiration through capillary action? Is this something that horticulturists take advantage of, to increase growth of plants undercover?

 

Undercover as in secretly, or as in hothouses? Farmers these days, as in all days past, are subject to the whims of Mother Nature. You can have the best seed, the best soil, the best tractor, the best yada yada, but all it takes to ruin a crop is an inopportune freeze, storm, flood, or other such misfortunate turn to trash the lot. :weather_storm: Likewise, opportune weather and fortune may deliver a bumper crop. :weather_hot: :tree:

Edited by Turtle
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I have followed up and found some further information RE Paige's Opening Post. (Paige, it would be helpful if you found some references yourself to post when you open a thread. :idea: )

 

Anyway...

 

Bumper Wild Fruit Crop in the UK for Autumn 2013

 

...

This year is what’s known as a really good “Mast Year” as they say . The term “mast” refers to the fruits of the forest, such as acorns, and is principly used to denote lush harvests of oak, beech, and sweet chestnuts,

...

Experts also think the heavy rain of 2012 was good for tress helping support the fruiting this year.

...

 

I will relate an anecdotal note on 'mast' years in regards Oaks & acorns that I have read somewhere but for which I can't find a reference just now. The thing is that if Oaks regularly produced similar sized crops of acorns each year, there would be a coincident population of squirrels which would be sufficient to eat all the acorns. By producing few or no acorns in some years, the Oaks facilitate a drop in squirrel population as there is little for the squirrels to eat. Then, with fewer squirrels around, the Oaks produce a so-called 'mast' crop which is so plentiful that the resident squirrels cannot possibly eat all the acorns and this increases the likelihood that new Oaks will sprout and grow and perpetuate their species. This is very much in line with the thrust of the book The Botany of Desire: A Plant's-Eye View of the World. :tree:

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I find the subject of masting fascinating and have found a lengthy Scientific American American Scientist article in PDF format. I'll just post the link for now and come back with some comments after I give it a leisurly read. Enjoy! :tree:

 

The Mystery of Masting in Trees

 

Had the magazine wrong; now corrected. So anyways, masting remains something of a mystery.

Evolutionarily, a significant selective benefit of masting is “predator satiation.” The idea is that large crops satiate seed eaters so that some seeds escape being eaten, particularly in “mast” years with bumper crops. To reinforce this effect, small crops keep seed-predator populations so low that there are too few animals to eat all the seed produced during good years. Thus, a higher proportion of seeds overall

ultimately escape predation.

...

First, what might cause variability in seed crops? One idea is the “resource tracking” hypothesis. This mechanism requires that the number of seeds produced each year varies in direct response to the amount of resources available to the tree. For example, warm, wet years might provide trees more resources to grow seeds by enhancing photosynthesis and increasing the availability of soil nutrients. In contrast, cold, dry years would result in less photosynthesis and lower nutrient availability, resulting in meager seed crops.

...

However, the evidence does not support a simple view of resource tracking as a cause of masting. For example, annual fluctuations in rainfall and temperature are smaller in magnitude than those of crop sizes of masting species, although resource tracking predicts they should be at least as great. Moreover,

yearly variation in these environmental quantities usually exhibits statistical characteristics distinctly different from those of mast crop sizes. Specifically, annual rainfall and temperature tend to be distributed normally, following a bell curve, whereas the annual size of the seed crop is not. Also, rainfall one year provides no clue as to how much rainfall there will be in any subsequent year. That is, environmental variables usually show no consistent patterns of temporal autocorrelation, when later measures in a time series are correlated with earlier measures.

...

 

There is considerably more in the article including the possibility of chemical signaling among trees, pollen coupling, and the influence of El Nino events. I have quoted about as much as is appropriate without violating copyright so the rest I leave to the interested reader to explore. :read:

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So anyways, masting remains something of a mystery.

 

That's interesting Turtle. I had read about mast many times in books about medieval history and never really knew what it was until now. The resource tracking would also have to include humans as many of the medieval/earlier references to mast were with regards to payments due. In these cases I assume that the acorns were collected by the peasants and were used as animal food by the local lords.

 

Incidentally I was at my fathers place this morning and noticed that his citrus trees (grapefruit, lime, mandarin and orange) did not have many fruit this year compared with the past 2 years. We are currently in the last month of our summer so it might be related to a water leak that I noticed near them in the middle of winter that was fixed by the beginning of our spring. The unusual thing is his lemon tree, which is at the other end of the yard in a drier area, still continues to produce multiple bumper crops all year round so it's still a bit of a mystery.

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That's interesting Turtle. I had read about mast many times in books about medieval history and never really knew what it was until now. The resource tracking would also have to include humans as many of the medieval/earlier references to mast were with regards to payments due. In these cases I assume that the acorns were collected by the peasants and were used as animal food by the local lords.

 

Glad I was able to find support for my anecdotal comments and that you enjoyed the read. I honestly don't remember when or where I first ran across the subject but have been relating the story for years to anyone who would sit still long enough. :fly:

 

Incidentally I was at my fathers place this morning and noticed that his citrus trees (grapefruit, lime, mandarin and orange) did not have many fruit this year compared with the past 2 years. We are currently in the last month of our summer so it might be related to a water leak that I noticed near them in the middle of winter that was fixed by the beginning of our spring. The unusual thing is his lemon tree, which is at the other end of the yard in a drier area, still continues to produce multiple bumper crops all year round so it's still a bit of a mystery.

 

That does sound more a localized issue with the water leak. One feature of masting new to me from the article is how wide spread the occurances are, covering sometimes 1000's of square miles. I didn't see any specific mention of citrus in the article so I'm unsure if they also manifest masting.

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I didn't see any specific mention of citrus in the article so I'm unsure if they also manifest masting.

 

You are right turtle, the wiki only mentions tree nuts although citrus displays similar behavior (but their forests were planted and irrigated by man).

 

I have seen the good old macadamia nut trees have seasons that could be described as masting and the Bunya nuts abundance in certain years made it a solid part of the local aboriginal food cycle so that's about as close as we get around here.

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Macadamia

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bunya_nut

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You are right turtle, the wiki only mentions tree nuts although citrus displays similar behavior (but their forests were planted and irrigated by man).

 

I have seen the good old macadamia nut trees have seasons that could be described as masting and the Bunya nuts abundance in certain years made it a solid part of the local aboriginal food cycle so that's about as close as we get around here.

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Macadamia

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bunya_nut

 

Trey kewl! I didn't know macadamias originated in Oz. 'Course I'm allergic to nuts and can't appreciate their edibility so much. Noticed a recent researcher's name in your article. What a coinkydink.

Genetics and morphological studies more recently published in 2008 by Austin Mast and colleagues, show they have separated from this genus Macadamia, correlating less closely than thought from earlier morphological studies.

 

I did notice in the article I posted earlier, a mention of grasses masting as well as trees.

 

And Paige; where are you now? Do you really have an interest here or did you think you were just taking another of your pokes at science? Come out come out wherever you are! :singer:

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