The Virginia Department of Forestry (VDOF) is again seeking 12 species of acorns and nuts that can be planted at its Augusta Forestry Center in Crimora to grow into tree seedlings that will become the forests of tomorrow.
Each year, VDOF asks the public from across the commonwealth to collect and donate nuts of select species to be planted at the state nursery. These seeds will produce next year’s hardwood seedling crop, which will be sold to Virginia’s forestland owners.
Seedlings grown from Virginia-grown seed generally produce trees that will best thrive in the state’s climates.
In 2020, Virginians did a tremendous job collecting acorns for the nursery, state officials said.
“The public supplied us with tons of acorns and walnuts last year. I am always amazed at the output by Virginians every year,” said Josh McLaughlin, an assistant forestry manager.
The species the tree nursery needs this year are black oak, black walnut, Chinese chestnut, chestnut oak, live oak, northern red oak, pin oak, southern red oak, swamp chestnut oak, swamp white oak, white oak and willow oak.
Certain nuts can be difficult to find regionally, and availability can change year to year. At times, one species of tree in a region may produce minimal acorns, while others are abundant with “acorns hanging like bunches of grapes,” said McLaughlin. Thus the call-to-action for landowners across the state; the more trees that can be identified for collection, the more nuts that can be potentially planted in the nursery.
Protocols and guidelines for acorn collection remain mostly the same as last year, with some minor adjustments to the collection deadline and species list. Virginia landowners interested in sharing their acorns or nuts are asked to follow these guidelines.
During September and early October, it is easy to pick up nuts in many yards and parking lots, state officials said. “Try to avoid trees in more heavily forested areas because there may be different species of trees nearby, making it difficult to sort the nuts by species for proper planting,” they said.
Those participating in the effort should place the nuts in a breathable sack or bag (no plastic, please) and attempt to minimize debris such as leaves, sticks and gravel). On the bag, label the species and date of collection.
Once the nuts are collected, place in a cool area (like a fridge or basement) until you are ready to drop them off at a Virginia Department of Forestry office.
Collectors can find more detailed information about collection procedures, nut identification and frequently asked questions on VDOF’s website: https://dof.virginia.gov/forest-management-health/seedling-nurseries/acorn-collection/.