Dave Sherry, district tehnician for the Soil and Water Conservation District, shows some of the donated walnuts.
Morrison / Blade photo Enlarge
WAUSEON - Landowners going nutty over bushels of unwanted walnuts and bags of extra acorns can help reforest Fulton County by participating in a seed-to-tree project.
A variety of seeds - black walnut; red, white, pin, bur, or swamp white oak; hickory; red or sugar maple; green or white ash, and black cherry - are being collected by the Fulton Soil & Water Conservation District to seed acres of land in the county.
Land newly enrolled in the federal conservation reserve program and the wetland reserve program will be seeded, said Dave Sherry, the conservation district's technician.
The reforestation effort targets about 50 acres per year. Seeds are randomly scattered on the surface of the soil. The seeding method is used instead of the customary planting of tree seedlings to allow trees to grow more naturally and eventually produce better wood products from the reforested acres.
This is the second year of the reforestation project. Last year thousands of pounds of seeds, including about 10,000 pounds of walnuts, were used to seed 40 acres of land, Mr. Sherry said.
There are about 40 walnuts per pound, he said. About 4,800 seeds per acre are scattered, compared to the customary planting of 420 tree seedlings per acre used in other reforestation programs, Mr. Sherry said. Seedlings cost $1; using donated seeds saves money.
The goal is to get 2,400 trees per acre the initial year after the seeding, he said.
"The idea being that Mother Nature will thin them out," he said. Some trees will be lost due to wildlife, he said.
So far, the project has been an "incredible success at this point. We had excellent seed germination this spring. Overall, we had wonderful success," Mr. Sherry said. After the seeding, the conservation district provides three years of weed control. Years from now, property owners can harvest timber from the reforested land as determined by a forester, he said.
Residents can take their seeds to the conservation district office at the Robert Fulton Agriculture Center, 8770 State Rt. 108, north of Wauseon near the county fairgrounds. Seeds can be emptied into the gravity box wagon near the building. If possible, keep seeds separated, particularly the hickory nuts and acorns. Eventually, the seeds will be removed to another location for storage.
"We are still seeding ash trees. They make a wonderful companion crop. Even if the emerald ash borer takes over the trees, the ash trees will have forced the oaks and walnuts to grow straight and tall," Mr. Sherry said.
Sugar maple seeds are coming off now, he said, and the green and white ash seeds are ready to harvest. Red maple seeds can be collected and brought to the office in the spring.
To help people collect seeds, a special tool can be rented or purchased at the office.
In previous years, the Maumee State Forest has encouraged people to donate seeds at its headquarters on County Road D between county roads 3 and 4 in Fulton County.
Andy Ware, assistant chief of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources' Division of Forestry, said that walnuts are being accepted, but the seed collection isn't being promoted as much as in the past. Staff efforts these days, he said, are focused on the emerald ash borer.
Walnuts collected at the Maumee State Forest location will be transported to Columbus and then transferred to the state nursery in Marietta, he said.