The large white fir trees on the farm had a stressful summer with the long dry stretch and warmer than average temperatures. I noticed the cones that usually open and drop their seeds while still on the tree have fallen to the ground intact. This is a sign that the tree is attempting to conserve energy. By dropping the extra weight of the cones instead of holding on until they fully mature and shatter, the tree conserves nutrients and energy needed to keep the cones suspended.
It will be interesting to see the results of the dropped cones in a couple of years when the seedlings will emerge. I wonder if there will be noticeable clumps of tiny tree starts under the large trees.