State forestry department searches for acorns and nuts

The Virginia Department of Forestry (VDOF) is again on the lookout for 12 species of acorns and nuts that can be planted in its Augusta Forestry Center. [Crimora, Virginia] to become seedlings of trees that will become the forests of tomorrow.

Every year, the VDOF calls on the public across the state to collect and donate nuts of selected species to plant in the state nursery. These seeds will produce next year’s hardwood seedling crop, which will be sold to forest land owners in Virginia. Seedlings grown from seed grown in Virginia will generally produce trees that will thrive best in our state’s climates.

In 2020, Virginians did a tremendous job collecting acorns for the nursery. “The public provided us with tons of acorns and nuts last year. I am always amazed at how Virginians perform every year, ”says Josh McLaughlin, deputy director of the forestry center.

Some nuts can be hard to find in the area and availability may change from year to year. Sometimes one species of tree in one area can produce minimal acorns, while others are abundant with “acorns hanging like bunches of grapes,” McLaughlin explains. This is why the VDOF is launching a call to action for landowners across the state. The more trees that can be identified for harvest, the more nuts can potentially be 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 property owners interested in sharing their acorns or nuts are urged to follow these guidelines.

In September and early October, it is easy to pick up nuts in many yards and parking lots. Try to avoid trees in more wooded areas as there may be different tree species nearby, making it difficult to sort the nuts by species for proper planting.

The species that the nursery needs this year are: black oak, black walnut, Chinese chestnut, chestnut oak, living oak, northern red oak, pine oak, southern red oak, marsh chestnut oak, white marsh oak, white oak and willow oak.

Place the nuts in a breathable bag or bag (no plastic, please). Minimize debris in the bag (eg leaves, sticks, gravel). On the bag, please label the species and date of collection.

Once the nuts are collected, place them in a cool place (like a refrigerator or basement) until you are ready to drop them off in a VDOF office. Nuts must be delivered to a VDOF office by October 15, 2021.

Collectors can find more detailed information on collection procedures, nut identification and frequently asked questions on the VDOF website:

If you have any questions, or if there is a tree that needs to be identified before collecting the nuts, please call the Augusta Forestry Center: 540-363-7000.

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