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Constance Bay Red Oak Acorn Oil Experiment: Progress to Winter Solstice 2008

As autumn approached, the acorns began dropping (acorns, like other nuts, are always picked from the ground, not from the tree). The earliest down proved infested with curculio beetles or aborted while immature. By mid-September, mature and healthy specimens were beginning to dominate the collections. Vera and Henry (aka Hank) Jones,their neighbours Mathilde and Bruce Rutledge, and Marilyn Deslaurier were all collecting. Collecting continued until just after mid-October, with the acorn quality continuing to improve. By the season’s end, about 100 kg had been harvested. The gratifying long length of the collecting season made gathering more casual and less frantic than expected. All had been float-tested to eliminate infested and infected acorns. The method works well but is not perfect. When all the acorns were setup to dry, curculio larvae continued to emerge but in diminishing proportion. By the time the acorns were dry enough for the next phase of the experiment, sampling showed that fewer than about 10% of the remaining collection were damaged.
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This is the perfect acorn produced by the Constance Bay red oak forest. It is about 2 cm ech way. There are other shape as well, some long and thin. Acorns have thin shells, so most of their size is kernel. They have a size to kernel ratio comparable to the chestnut. Most other nuts have more shell and less kernel than acorns.
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Another way to collect acorns is by raking them up. Much debris comes with the raking so there is work needed to separate the acorns from the debris. We did this by putting the rakings into a tub of water. The good acorns sank, whereas much of the debris floated. We skimmed off the dead acorns (floaters) and debris, leaving the good acorn sinkers on the bottom the tub under the water. Pour off the water and float, then retrieve the good acorns from the bottom.
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Here we are looking down into a float tub. You can see the dead acorns and caps floating, and the good acorns on the bottom. As it turns out, not all the curculio larvae have exited the infected acorns even at the end of the season. Our sample continue to produce curculios until the end of the month. About a tenth of the acorns kept
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As the season moved into mid-October, the oak leaves started changing colour. By this time, most of the acorns had already fallen. By the time the leaves fell late in October, they covered a small percentage of the acorns that fell at the same time. These lat acorns however are the best of all. So even though there are few, they are worth collecting. A leaf blower would quickly undercover these acorn and they could then be easily gathered.
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Canada Nutculture Association, Ottawa, Canada: "Progress through Research & Development"