Cones into cash?: DNR offers pine cone buying program
This fall, as cones are ripening, people can collect red and jack pine cones and sell them to the DNR by visiting offices in Manistique Cadillac, Gaylord, and Marquette. The seeds are placed in cold storage at the DNR-operated Wyman State Nursery until needed.
Each bushel of pine cones can net between $30 and $35 for the person willing to do the work.
“The annual pine cone buying program provides an opportunity for residents to contribute to the DNR’s rejuvenation efforts and help produce millions of seedlings that will help sustain Michigan’s state forest land,” said Bill O’Neill, chief of the DNR’s Forest Resources Division. “The DNR’s regeneration efforts have been successful for more than 30 years. With help from folks collecting pine cones, the outcomes of this program can be enjoyed for years to come.”
Michigan’s forests are known for their breathtaking beauty, sheer size and inviting spaces. These forest lands are carefully managed for timber, wildlife, recreation, aesthetic and ecological values – all of which play an important role in the state’s economy through forest-based industry and tourism.
Collaboration is important when it comes to successfully managing Michigan’s state forest land to meet these needs.
Many of the seedlings used in the DNR’s planting efforts come from Wyman. The Manistiquebased facility produces 5 million to 7.5 million seedlings annually to help replenish Michigan’s forest land. If pine cones aren’t collected yearly, those seedlings won’t be produced.
The pine cones sold to the DNR can help produce seed and seedlings that will reforest habitats crucial to the survival of many species.
In addition, the DNR also focuses its reforestation efforts on sites that have been harmed by natural disasters like wildfire.
“When natural circumstances – like last year’s Duck Lake Fire – destroy large areas of forest land, the DNR works to plant seedlings that will help areas regenerate faster than they would on their own,” explained David Neumann, FRD silviculturist. “Last spring, we planted about 1,200 acres in Newberry at the Duck Lake site; we have plans to plant an additional 3,000 acres over the next three to five years to help the area recover from the fire.
September and October are generally the best months to collect pine cones. For residents who are new to collecting pine cones in Michigan’s beautiful forests, the DNR offers the following tips to get started:
Look for squirrel caches.
Pick cones off the tops of trees from recent timber sales.
Remember that only cones that are tight (unopened) and clean (free of sticks, debris, rot, decay and fungus) will be accepted.
Keep the cones cool to ensure that they do not begin to compost; the seeds will die at high temperatures.
After the DNR purchases the pine cones, they are dried and the seeds are extracted and cleaned.
People interested in picking and selling cones to the DNR this fall can contact the FRD staff person in their area for more information and to find out the dates each office will buy cones from the public.
Manistique: Richard Mergener, 906-341-2518.