White Oak Initiative

The White Oak Initiative is a joint project of the Tennessee Division of Forestry, the Tennessee Forestry Association and University of Tennessee Extension to promote white oak reforestation. The first phase of the project includes acorn collection, education, and seedling production for planting.

White oak is a keystone tree species in Tennessee for both wildlife and wood products, but  experts are concerned about the long-term sustainability of white oak considering the regeneration difficulties associated with the species.

We need your help! This initiative is asking Tennessee’s civic organizations, forestry groups, landowners and anyone interested to collect white oak acorns. The acorns will be planted and evaluated at the East Tennessee Nursery in Delano, Tennessee, and resulting quality, white oak seedlings will be used in reforestation efforts.

We hope to keep white oak in the forest landscape for as long as possible with continuous conservation, reforestation, and stewardship projects.

This program is accepting acorns from October 15–November 15, 2021.

Learn more about the White Oak Initiative here.

How to Participate

Thank you for your interest in collecting white oak acorns for producing seedlings for reforestation! We appreciate your interest and efforts in collecting acorns to promote the stewardship, conservation, and future of white oaks.

  1. Watch our YouTube video to understand the process of how to collect, process, and ship/pickup white oak acorns.
  2. Contact the Tennessee Forestry Association or call 615-883-3832 for an acorn collection kit.
  3. Contact the East Tennessee Nursery (877-868-7337) with the Tennessee Division of Forestry, TN Department of Agriculture to get information on how to deliver or ship collected acorns. Instructions will differ depending on your location and the amount of acorns collected.
  4. Collect the acorns. Make sure that only white oak acorns are collected distinguishing white oak acorns from other oak species by referring to the UT Extension Tree Identification Booklet and the handout in the acorn collection kit.
  5. Clean and store acorns in cool, but not freezing, conditions to maintain moisture and viability as directed in the instructions. Acorns should be taken to your local forestry office as designated by the East Tennessee Nursery as soon as acorns are collected and processed.

If you have additional questions, please contact the Tennessee Forestry Association, the East Tennessee Nursery or Professor Wayne Clatterbuck with University of Tennessee Extension. We thank you again for collecting white oak acorns to ensure the future of this keystone species for wildlife and wood products!

  1. Ensure that the acorns collected are from white oak (Quercus alba). Consult the identification video if needed.
  2. Do not allow acorns to be dried excessively, and avoid exposing them to high temperatures.
  3. Use 4mm plastic Ziploc or garbage bags for storage to reduce moisture loss. Acorns should be kept in the shade during storage and transport.
  4. Wash acorns to clear them of dirt and debris.
  5. Within 24 hours of collection, acorns should be put in a tub of water to test acorn viability with a float test. Large plastic bins or 5-gallon buckets work well for this. Acorns that float after being in water for an hour, or that have caps that remain attached to the acorn, are considered non-viable and should be discarded. Acorns that sink are considered viable acorns.
  6. Acorns should then be left in water for 4 to 6 hours to rehydrate, then pat-dried with a paper towel, and deposited in a plastic bag. Water should not accumulate in this bag.
  7. Store acorns at cool, but not freezing, temperatures. Refrigerators, basements, cellars, and other cool places are good options.
  8. Take acorns to the Tennessee Division of Forestry locations, or ship them to the East Tennessee State Nursery within 3 to 7 days after collection.

Acorn Collection Kits
Tennessee Forestry Association
615-883-3832

Acorn Depository
East Tennessee Nursery in Delano, TN
877-868-7337

White Oak ID and Acorn Processing
University of Tennessee Extension, Knoxville
Professor Wayne Clatterbuck, 865-974-7990

For questions regarding acorn collection or tree identification, contact your local area forester.