Answer: This type of spring response in fall often happens after a long, stressful summer causes plants to go into a type of dormancy, prior to the onset of true winter dormancy. Some plants are especially susceptible. I noticed deciduous magnolias and some fruit trees doing the same thing this past fall.
You could have harvested the sprouts as they would not have had time to grow and serve the plant as carbohydrate-producing structures with the soon coming cold weather. This expenditure of stored reserves certainly did not do the plant any good, but it should be fine and send up new shoots next spring, although production may be somewhat reduced.
Thanks for the question!
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