Longleaf pine cone collection on the Sabine National Forest during October 2014
Longleaf pine is known as an unpredictable seed producer, with adequate or better seed crops occurring once every 5 years or longer. However, in the spring before seed fall, good cone crops can be predicted by visually counting green cones in the canopy, which by then are large enough to be seen, especially when binoculars of suitable power are used. During the spring of 2014, cone surveys in eastern Texas suggested that the autumn longleaf pine cone crop there could be a bumper crop. As a result, staff of the National Forests and Grasslands in Texas, in cooperation with Southern Region Forest Management staff, planned and conducted a longleaf pine cone collection that was implemented during the fall of 2014. Results were a great success, with more than 1,000 bushels of cones collected, producing nearly 1,000 pounds of seed (equivalent to approximately 5 million seedlings, enough to plant roughly 8,000 acres at typical planting rates). This seed supply will meet the needs of the National Forest and Grasslands in Texas for the foreseeable future.