Believe it or nut: Virginia needs acorns

Virginia wants your nuts — and acorns.

The Virginia Department of Forestry is asking residents to gather up and donate acorns and nuts, which will then be planted at the state-run nursery and help build the “forests of tomorrow,” the agency said in a news release Tuesday.

Buying acorns can actually be expensive, and some of the types the department is seeking are difficult to find in the region around the Augusta Forestry Center in Crimora, Virginia, the department said.

“Each year we ask Virginia landowners to collect acorns so that we can use them for planting hardwood trees in our nursery,” Joshua McLaughlin, assistant manager of the forestry center, said in a statement. “By next year, those acorns will have grown into seedlings that landowners across the state can then purchase to plant on their property.”

The department is seeking 12 species of acorns and nuts: black oak, black walnut, Chinese chestnut, chestnut oak, Northern red oak, pin oak, sawtooth oak, Southern red oak, swamp chestnut oak, swamp white oak, white oak and willow oak.

If you want to pitch in, here are some tips, courtesy of the Virginia Department of Forestry:

Gathering nuts and acorns:

  • Avoid trees in heavily forested areas, because there might be different tree species nearby, and it could be hard to sort the nuts by species.
  • No cap, no problem: It doesn’t matter if the cap is still on the acorn or not.
  • If you want to make sure you’re collecting nuts from the right type of tree, call the Augusta Forestry Center at 540-363-7000.

Storing them:

  • Store the nuts in a breathable sack or bag. Don’t use plastic. Try to make sure there isn’t any other debris in the bag, such as leaves, sticks or gravel. On the bag, label the species and the date you collected it.
  • Once you’ve collected the nuts, place them in a cool area, such as your basement. You could even put them in your fridge.

Turning them in:

  • The nuts must be delivered to a Virginia Department of Forestry office by Oct. 17. In Northern Virginia, there are offices in Fairfax and Warrenton. You can find your local office on the department’s website.

Not in Virginia?

  • A spokeswoman said the Virginia nursery will accept donations from areas that border Virginia — West Virginia, Maryland and D.C. — but recommends you put that information on the bag label “so staff can determine if it’s from an acceptable range.”

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