Industry Representatives: Sam Firkins, Forestart and Alice Snowden, Cheviot Trees
AHDB Horticulture Cost: £50,000
Total project cost: £80,000
Summary: The overall aim of this project is to extend storability of recalcitrant acorns for 18 months without significant loss of seed quality. This would solve the supply and demand problems for seed traders, which result from irregular fruiting in pedunculate oak. The project seeks to 1) apply post-harvest treatments, which reduce water loss, mould and respiration, 2) measure changes in seed quality during storage, and 3) communicate research to stake-holders using different media.
Aims and Objectives:
(i) Project aim(s):
To extend storability of recalcitrant acorns for 18 months without significant loss of seed quality and thereby overcome the supply and demand problems for seed traders/nursery managers, resulting from irregular fruiting in pedunculate oak.
(ii) Project objectives:
1. To conduct a short review/desk study on current knowledge of acorn storage.
2. To use two approaches to extend shelf-life of acorns:
a. wax coatings/anti-transpirants to reduce water loss;
b. permeable/barrier packaging to reduce respiration of acorns.
3. To determine which treatments are effective by tracking changes in seed quality using a range of seed tests.
a. to track water loss by measuring moisture content.
b. to detect changes in seed fill (shrinkage) by taking x-rays.
c. to detect membrane damage by measuring electrolyte leakage. d. to determine loss of viability/germinability of acorns.
4. To determine the seedling performance/vigour of treated acorns under nursery conditions.
5. To communicate research to stakeholders through different media including technical articles, peer- reviewed articles and workshops/presentations.
Benefits to Industry: There are three main benefits to the industry. By extending the storability of acorns over 18 months, traders would be able to stockpile acorns collected during good crop years for subsequent sale during poor crop years. This, in turn, would ensure the year-round availability of acorns, increase flexibility on sowing date and reduce losses of stocks/seeds during storage.