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Pine cone picking vendor program

Pick red pine cones to help the DNR plant trees

Are you great at tree identification and want to help plant trees? You can earn $100 by picking a bushel of red pine cones between September 1-30. Get started:

Finding enough ripe cones takes time, so go out prepared for the outdoors and expect to be in the woods for a while. A bushel is approximately two 5-gallon buckets.

Questions? Contact program coordinator 

Jason Hartman, 989-390-0279.
A person picks up a bundle of seedlings to plant

Picking the perfect cones

Picking red pine cones at the right time ensures viable seeds that can be used for planting. Immature, old cones and cones from the wrong tree species will be refused.

An all-green pine cone that is underripe

Too green

Underripe cones will be small, hard and all green - check back later!

A perfectly ripe red pine cone

Just right

Ripe cones have a green or purple tint and are firm to the touch. Scales will be closed.

An overripe, open pine cone that is all brown

Too old

A cone that is all brown with scales open is too old and cannot be used.

Dropping off your bushels of cones

After picking, store pine cones in a cool, dry place in mesh bags. Onion bags will be provided to pickers by the DNR at drop-off locations. Don’t use burlap or plastic bags, which can hold moisture and ruin the cones. Tag bags on the inside and outside with your name, county where you picked and if the cones are wild or from a plantation.

Cones may be dropped off by appointment at select DNR Customer Service Centers and Wyman Nursery. Do not bring pine cones to DNR Customer Service Centers not listed here and without first making an appointment.

Young conifer trees grow in a greenhouse

How do foresters use red pine cones?

After pine cones are dropped off, they’re put into machines that gently warm and shake them, allowing the seeds within to drop out and be stored until planting time. This process helps foresters replant state forests so we can enjoy the benefits of forests today and forever.

Learn more about our sustainable forestry practices and ways to enjoy your state forests.