If you're in Northern Michigan or Michigan's UP, you could be raking in some extra cash for collecting pine cones.

This feels like it should be an Onion article but, it's very real. The Pinecone Picking Program kicks off in September.

What...Are You Even Talking About?

Posted on Facebook by the 'Gander Newsroom, the Department of Natural Resources in Michigan is encouraging residents to collect ripe, red pine cones from September 1st through September 30th so that more trees can be planted in state forests.

For every bushel delivered to the DNR, they'll pay $100. A bushel is equivalent to about two 5-gallon buckets filled to the top. You do have to be registered with SIGMA to collect the $100 and must make an appointment with DNR to drop them off.

A Guide for Picking

Since Michigan's DNR is looking for a very specific type of pine cone, you want to make sure you're finding the right one so that you don't waste your time or energy.

First, the DNR is looking for ripe pine cones. Meaning, they should be picked off the tree. Pine cones that have fallen to the ground will most likely not be useable. The pine cone scales should also be closed. If they're open, like in the picture below, they're older and therefore won't be suitable for planting.

Photo by Robert Zunikoff on Unsplash
Photo by Robert Zunikoff on Unsplash
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Now, to identifying red pine cones.

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Michigan's DNR has posted a guide to spotting them, which you can see here, but describes red pine cones as:

  • Egg-shaped
  • Scaly, reddish bark
  • Have needles that are 4-6 inches long

They also recommended that, if this is your first time, you should get a few samples identified before trying to collect a whole bushel. Again, a bushel is two, 5-gallon buckets worth of pine cones which is a lot of pine cones to collect. It would be a shame if you snagged the wrong ones.

Should you have any questions, you can contact Jason Hartman at HartmanJ@Michigan.gov. Or, give him a call at 989-390-0279.

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