Making HAY from Your Forest

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Published on: Aug. 2, 1999

Last revision: Nov. 3, 2010

black walnuts. In an average year this company purchases and processes over 20 million pounds of nuts. Most of this volume comes from wild trees and is delivered to market by landowners. For walnuts delivered to a "huller," producers are paid $10 per hundredweight after the green outer husk is removed.

Native pecans also are collected and sold, most of them directly to consumers at roadside stands or to commercial processors. Managing native pecan stands for nut production is increasing, but the market is still open.

Many of the "minor" nut species also have active markets. Hickory markets are expanding in the South and Midwest. In addition, the demand for butternut, chestnut and hazelnut normally exceeds supply.

Acorns are often overlooked as edible nuts in this country, but they have future potential in international markets, especially along the Pacific Rim.

Other edible products of forests include honey, mushrooms, maple syrup, herbs, spices, edible roots and flavorings. You can get more detailed information about any of these products in your local library or on the Internet.

Cones and Seeds

Cones from coniferous species offer a variety of market possibilities. The most obvious markets for ripe cones are tree nurseries throughout the country.

Cone harvest often takes place in conjunction with a timber sale timed to take place when the cones are ripe. Cones can then be more easily picked from the remaining tops following removal of logs and pulpwood.

Cones that have opened also are in demand for various floral, wreath and potpourri products. Many nurseries now sell opened cones to craft markets. Almost any species of cones, from small fir cones to large ponderosa pine cones, are marketable. Cones are most often sold by weight but may also be sold by the bushel or be individually priced for large or unusual specimens. Prices average 30 to 60 cents per pound.

Hardwood seed crops can be handled in a similar manner. The market is growing for seed of both tree and shrub species for native plant nurseries.

Seeds from understory plants and shrubs are equally desirable, and seed from medicinal plant species may be marketed as grown in a cultured environment. A thorough inventory of all your forest plants would be a good idea to determine if you have potential for harvesting multiple seed crops.

Prices vary according to relative abundance of the species and the difficulty of harvesting the seed. Price lists are available from larger seed dealers and seed supply

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