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Bur Oak (Quercus macrocarpa)  RSS feed

Posts: 142
Location: Missoula, Montana (zone 4)
Posts: 2392
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I'll give you my general comments on Stratification, Scarification, Seed saving & Germination:

Stratification -- No. You'll get better results starting acorns in the fall, maybe even late summer, shaking the tree to get them while they are fresh. Acorns lose viability as they dry out. The best thing that can happen to an acorn is for a squirrel to take it and bury it and then forget about it. That way it never dries out and can get started right away germinating.

Scarification -- No. The hull of the acorn is necessary protection while it germinates, and any acorns with holes or cracks in the hull should be discarded.

Seed saving -- See comments on stratification. If you want to save acorns from fall to the following spring, put them under leaf litter and keep them cold so they will not be tempted to germinate.

Germination -- What I have done that really helps with acorn germination is to drench the soil medium the acorns are in with a member of the Boletaceae family of fungi. Boletes are easy to find. When you are collecting your acorns, keep your eye out for mushrooms as well. Most boletes are mycorrhizal, and all oaks form mycorrhizal associations, so it is a natural match.

In my experience, acorns that sprout into a medium that is full of bolete spores get off to a better start. This is even more important for long tap root species like the Bur Oak, because they need to keep pushing that tap root down as the ground above them begins to freeze solid. I have germinated sawtooth oak (Quercus acutissima), which has acorns quite similar to the Bur Oak, and by the time they are ready to stick two leaves above the soil, the tap root is already a foot long.
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