Hot sum­mer conkers an early start to the sea­son

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - NEWS -

AF­TER the first ripe conker of the year in the South East was spot­ted in Bucks in 2017, the Wood­land Trust is re­port­ing a de­lay to this year’s de­but crop.

The char­ity claims the siz­zling sum­mer heatwave and pro­longed drought has caused a de­lay across the re­gion to this pop­u­lar first sign of au­tumn.

In 2017 – through its Na­ture’s Cal­en­dar record­ing project – the first sight­ing of a ripe conker in the South East was on July 17 in Buck­ing­hamshire, then Au­gust 5 in Ox­ford­shire and Au­gust 9 in East Sus­sex - but this year there have been none in the re­gion.

The first sight­ing na­tion­ally this year was in Wilt­shire on Au­gust 18.

The char­ity said the hot weather, cou­pled with the lack of wa­ter, could have de­layed the horse chest­nut trees ripen­ing their fruit.

Martha Boalch, cit­i­zen sci­ence of­fi­cer for the Wood­land Trust, said: “The ripen­ing of conkers is de­layed this year and there are many fac­tors that could come into play. This year’s heatwave will have en­cour­aged fruit to grow more rapidly, but lack of wa­ter may have stopped conkers from grow­ing to their full po­ten­tial. Tree pests and dis­eases such as the horse chest­nut leaf miner and bleed­ing canker can also af­fect the health of horse chest­nut trees.”

But she said all is not lost: “Al­though we’ve only had a small num­ber of conkers recorded so far, all is not lost for our favourite sign of au­tumn.

“Over the next month we would ex­pect more fruit to ripen, but only time will tell whether this will be a bumper crop.

“For this rea­son, we need more peo­ple to tell us about what they see hap­pen­ing with lo­cal flora and fauna.

“By record­ing sea­sonal changes with our Na­ture’s Cal­en­dar project, we can as­sess how na­ture is cop­ing with a chang­ing cli­mate – and in­form wider stud­ies.”

Through its Na­ture’s Cal­en­dar project the Wood­land Trust re­lies on the pub­lic record­ing signs of na­ture through its web­site na­turescal­en­dar. wood­landtrust.org.uk

The data helps the char­ity un­der­stand how na­ture is af­fected by weather and cli­mate change.

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