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interesting oak acorn stratifying observation

Posted by hairmetal4ever Z7 MD (My Page) on
Mon, Jan 27, 14 at 12:46

I bought some Quercus coccinea seed from Sheffield's Seeds in late December. Put them in moist peat in the fridge. The instructions state 60-90 days stratification (IIRC) but a few already have very short (>3mm) roots poking out or at least some cracking of the shell indicative of germination.

Near as I can tell, they must have pre-stratified in cold storage before I bought them.

Generally, seeds won't stratify unless moist. So storing dry seed in cold temperatures does not break the dormancy, unless they're kept moist.

However, since oaks are "recalcitrant" seeds (they cannot dry out much if at all, or they die), if they're kept moist enough to stay alive, they're probably moist enough internally (even if stored "dry" as in without moist medium) to "count" stratification time while in storage. Since Sheffield's (per their website) didn't recieve the seeds themselves until December, and Scarlet Oak acorns usually fall in October or so, it's likely the collector of the seed kept them in cold storage with moisture control before shipping them off to Sheffield's in the first place.

Just an interesting observation I wanted to share.

This post was edited by hairmetal4ever on Mon, Jan 27, 14 at 14:38


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: interesting oak acorn stratifying observation

hair,
If I'm collecting acorns to plant, I always store them cold & moist, from the time I gather them - regardless of whether they're red or white group.
Large-acorn bur oak types might last a while without something to keep the moisture levels up, but I wouldn't want to count on the smaller white(like muehlenbergii) or red oak acorns not drying to the point of losing viability, if I just left 'em at ambient temperature/humidity.


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RE: interesting oak acorn stratifying observation

I'm going to try an experiment. Since I have the grow light mentioned in my post about the Acer nigrum, I took a half dozen of the sprouting acorns and put them in a small bowl with a moist paper towel. In a few days when the radicles truly emerge I'll stick them under the light in pots. I already have some Q. michauxii there, too that are growing a bit.

The rest I'll leave in the fridge until sometime in March when I can probably get away with planting outdoors.

I'm curious to see how the near-freezing temps hinder root growth. Although roots can/do (obviously) grow to some degree as long as it's not freezing, part of me thinks that even 6 weeks from now, the ones that stay in the fridge won't grow more than in inch or two in length, max during that time. Short enough that I can still work with them to safely plant at that time. I have the room to play around, I have 30+ acorns and nowhere near enough room for that many trees.


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