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Do persimmon seeds predict Ozarks weather?

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Persimmon seeds supposedly are indicators of winter weather. These are from 2013.

Persimmon seeds supposedly are indicators of winter weather. These are from 2013.

This coming winter in the Ozarks is going to be colder than average with a below average snowfall and a few warm spells. That’s according to persimmon seeds and the analysis of Patrick Byers, horticulture specialist with the University of Missouri Extension Service.

“It’s a cherished bit of Ozarks folklore that the shape of the seedling inside a persimmon seed can predict upcoming winter conditions,” says Byers. “It is not a research-based way to forecast the weather, but once a year it is a fun tongue-in-check project and a great way to educate people about this unique native Ozark fruit tree.”

According to Ozarks folklore, a spoon shape on the seed indicates above average snowfall, a knife shape signals colder than normal temperatures and a fork shape means warmer than average temperatures.

For this year’s weather forecast, Byers collected fruit from persimmon trees in Lawrence, Newton, Webster and McDonald counties. He extracted the seeds from the fruit and then randomly selected 102 seeds.

“I cracked open the seeds, observed the seedlings and then added up the data,” said Byers. “Looks like Ozarkers better get a warm coat. At least this data from persimmon seeds suggests below average snowfall this year some periods of warm temperatures.”

In 2014, Byers found 18 percent of the seeds had a knife shape; 31 percent had a fork shape, and 51 percent had a spoon shape. Over the past five years of doing this same thing, Byers says the average has been 57 percent spoon shaped, 13.6 percent knife shaped and 28 percent fork shaped.

Persimmons grow on a tree and look like an orange tomato. An unripe fruit can quickly pucker the lips of a person with its bitter taste. Native Americans taught early settlers that the fruit should be left on the trees well into October when it becomes ripe enough to eat.

For more information on persimmons, or answers to your specific lawn and garden questions, contact Patrick Byers, horticulture specialist, University of Missouri Extension or the Greene County Master Gardener Hotline at (417) 881-8909. More information is available on the Greene County Extension website at http://extension.missouri.edu/greene.

George Freeman is a veteran journalist and photographer. An award-winning writer, editor and columnist in Springfield, Mo., with more than 50 years experience. His preference is for positive and uplifting stories about people, places, traditions and trends that make the Ozarks one of the most livable regions anywhere. A member of the Garden Writers Association of America, he is a past-president of the Society of Professional Journalists of Southwest Missouri, the Kansas and Ohio AP societies; a board member of Friends of the Garden and a member of the Rotary Club of Springfield. In 1976, he traveled to India as a member of a Rotary Foundation Group Study Exchange Team.

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