State forest nursery needs black spruce cones for reforestation efforts

December 28, 2020

Want to help Minnesota’s forests grow healthy and strong while making some extra money at the same time? The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has an opportunity for you.

Each year, the DNR purchases tree seeds and cones from people who collect them on their property or on state forest land. Seeds are extracted from the cones at the State Forest Nursery and used for reforestration. The DNR currently needs hundreds of bushels of black spruce cones within the next few weeks to meet state and county spruce seed orders for spring 2021 reforestation efforts. Seeds from the nursery are used to reforest about 6,000 acres of black spruce in Minnesota each year. 

“A low supply of black spruce cones in previous years has left our seed ‘cupboard’ bare,” said Mike Reinikainen, DNR forestry silviculture program coordinator. “We are hearing that there’s a good black spruce cone crop this year – it’s critical we take advantage of this to store up seed for this season and for seasons to come.”

Minnesotans have always played an important role in seed and cone collection for the nursery. The DNR will direct people to where they can find black spruce cones and will purchase what people collect. The price this year is $85 per bushel.

Before collecting cones, people should contact one of the DNR seed buying stations for more information and instructions for collecting, handling and labeling the cones. The stations are located in: Warroad, Baudette, Orr, Littlefork, Tower, Two Harbors, Hibbing, Cloquet, the Minnesota State Forest Nursery (south of Akeley), Bemidji, Deer River, and Northome. Addresses and phone numbers for the stations are on the DNR’s Seed Drop off Locations webpage.

To be eligible for purchase, cones must be high quality, ripe, and free of stems and debris. Black spruce cones are needed now through February.

To learn more, visit the Forestry Division’s Seed and Cone Collection website.