Pedunculate Oaks produce good acorn crops only in mast years which occur every few years. Acorns are classed as recalcitrant due to their high moisture content and are susceptible to desiccation, premature germination and fungal infection during storage. Seed traders are therefore unable to stockpile acorns collected during good crop years for subsequent sale during poor years.
This project, supported by Woodland Heritage and a number of other funders, focuses on two approaches to extend shelf-life; firstly, to reduce water loss by coating acorns with anti-transpirants or waxes, and secondly, to reduce respiration by storing acorns in hi-tech bags. Initial results are promising and indicate that it is possible to store acorns for at least 12 months using these techniques.
Shelagh A McCartan and Robert H Needham, Forest Research