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Time to go nuts! Yes, the Virginia Department of Forestry is asking for acorns from your yard

The department is seeking 12 species of acorns and nuts that can be planted at its Augusta Forestry Center to grow into the "forests of tomorrow"
Credit: Virginia Department of Forestry

WASHINGTON — The Virginia Department of Forestry, known for developing healthy, sustainable forest resources for Virginians, is seeking 12 species of acorns and nuts that can be planted at its Augusta Forestry Center in Crimora, Virginia to help cultivate the forests of tomorrow.

The department hopes to use the acorns and nuts to grow into tree seedlings. The hardwood crop will then be sold to Virginia’s forestland owners to build their future forests.

Each year, VDOF asks the public from across the state to collect and donate nuts of select species to be planted at the state nursery. Seedlings developed from Virginia-grown seed generally produce trees that will best thrive in our state’s climates.

Protocols and guidelines for acorn collection remain mostly the same as last year, with some minor adjustments to the collection deadline and species list. 

During September and early October, it is easy to pick up nuts in many yards and parking lots. 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.

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.

Virginia landowners interested in sharing their acorns or nuts are asked to follow these guidelines. 

  • Place the nuts in a breathable sack or bag that is not made of plastic. Minimize debris in the bag (e.g. leaves, sticks, gravel). On the bag, please 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 VDOF office. Nuts must be delivered to a VDOF office by Oct. 16, 2020.

Collectors can find more detailed information about collection procedures, nut identification and frequently asked questions on VDOF’s website

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

The department oversees 16 million acres of forestland. More than 108,000 Virginians are currently employed in forestry, forest products and related industries.