Collecting Deciduous Seeds

Contact the area forestry office drop off location in your area before collecting for the quota of cone or seeds they will purchase plus instructions on proper collecting, handling and labeling requirements. Collecting, storing, and delivering large quantities of high-quality seed, you are helping to grow deciduous forest adapted to Minnesota.

 

SpeciesSeed crop freq. (years)Time to collect seedShapeand app.Collection method*CleaningStorage until seeded in fallComments
Black ash1–3October to DecemberFlat exclamation pointH, T/S, PRemove stems and leavesKeep dry—can be stored in feed sacks in a 40°F cooler for several weeksCan hang on trees bunches into December
White ash3–5Late September to late NovemberFlat exclamation pointH, T/S, PRemove stems and leavesSame as aboveHard to tell from green ash; purple leaves only sure way
Green ash1October to JanuaryFlat exclamation pointH, T/S, PRemove stems and leavesSame as aboveGrows on a wide range of sites
Basswood1+September to DecemberBrown peas with propeller on a stalkRake, T/S, HCrush stems and wings, separate hard, round seedDry—store in moisture-proof container at 40°F or lowerSecond year germination; needs cold/warm/cold cycle.
Black cherry1–5August to SeptemberPurple-black berriesRake, T/S, HMascerate soft fruit, separate hard seed, dryDry—store in moisture-proof container at 40°FCollect from high-quality trees
Hackberry October to DecemberPurple-black berriesRake, T/S, HNoneStore dried fruits or cleaned seeds in moisture-proof container at 40°F 
Shagbark hickory1–3September to DecemberFour football-shaped segments togetherH, RakeRemove leaves and twigsCan be stored in feed bags at 40°FStay within natural range
Silver maple1JuneGreen to brown propellersRakeRemove stems and leavesPlant as soon as possible in early summerSeed shallow
Sugar maple3–5Late September to early NovemberGreen to brown propellersRake, T/S, HRemove stems and leavesDry—store in small seed sacks at 40°FOne bushel per person per day is maximum yield for hand picking
Bur oak2–3August to SeptemberAcorn almost fully covered by cap, which has a furry fringeRake, B-A-N, PickCut open a handful to test for viability; hand sortOnly for a few weeks at 40°F— soak overnight before storageRace with squirrels and deer for acorns
Red oak pdf3–5September to early OctoberReddish-brown acornRake, B-A-N, PickFloat, then remove "floaters" or hand sortOnly for a few weeks at 40°F— soak overnight, sow in fallRace with squirrels and deer for acorns
White oak4–10Late August to SeptemberTan to light-brown acorn, thinner and smaller than most red oak acornsRake, B-A-N, PickFloat, then remove "floaters" or hand sortOnly for a few weeks at 40°F— soak overnight, sow in fallRace with squirrels and deer for acorns
Black walnut pdf1–2OctoberGolf ball-size nut with green to black huskRake, B-A-N, PickRemove leaves and twigsOnly for a few weeks—small piles to prevent the heating of seedStay within natural range. Do not store walnuts in gunny sacks
Gray dogwood1July to AugustPea-sized white berries in clustersHRemove leaves and twigsSeed extraction from fruit is not necessarySow in fall as soon as possible after collection
Red-osier dogwood1July to SeptemberPea-sized white berries in clustersHRemove leaves and twigsSeed extraction from fruit is not necessary— prevent heating of seedSow in fall as soon as possible after collection
Choke cherry1–2August to SeptemberPea-sized dark red to purple berriesHRemove leaves and twigsSeed extraction from fruit is not necessary—surface dry fruit is OK for sowing.Sow in fall as soon as possible after collection; Prevent heating in storage.
Highbush cranberry1–2August to SeptemberPea-sized bright red berries in clustersHRemove leaves and twigsSeed extraction from fruit helpful is some Viburnum speciesOften second-year germination; Prevent heating in storage.

*Collection methods:
H – Hand pick from cut or standing trees
T/S – Tarp ground and shake branches when seed is ready to fall
P – Pruning hook on a long pole
B-A-N – Bag-a-Nut machine
Rake – Rake fallen seed from street or lawns
Pick – Gather fallen seed by hand from ground

Bagging seed for shipping

  • Oak seeds—put into breathable, woven poly bags or burlap.
  • Ash and maple seed—put into paper or burlap bags after drying.
  • Walnuts—keep in small, open containers or small piles.

Label all bags with species, date and place collected. Do not overfill bags.