ELKINS, W.Va. – Digging and eating ramps in the spring is a traditional activity throughout Appalachia, and the onion-like vegetable is a West Virginia delicacy.

Representatives for the Monongahela National Forest have released guidelines for harvesting ramps this season.

Ramp collection season is typically from late April to early June, and while collecting ramps for personal use is permitted on the Mon Forest within established limits, commercial harvesting of ramps is prohibited. This includes re-selling ramps collected for personal use.

A ramp harvester can have two gallons of ramps in possession at any one time, about the amount that fits in a typical plastic grocery bag. This equals about 180 whole plants, including roots and leaves. Individuals may not collect ramps on behalf of someone else, but if you harvest in a group, each person can have up to the two-gallon limit.

In order to maintain the future of ramps in the area, the Monongahela National Forest recommends following these guidelines:

  • Collect ramps only in patches with more than 100 plants.
  • If you find a patch that has already been harvested, move on to another area.
  • When collecting ramps from a large clump, take only one-fifth of the plants. Leaving behind most of the plants will allow them to mature and go to seed, and the patch will recover faster.
  • If digging bulbs, use a soil fork or a small hand trowel and a knife, rather than a large shovel. Shovels disturb the root system of neighboring ramps and other plants much more than these smaller tools. To dig ramps, loosen the soil with the soil fork or hand trowel and use the knife to cut the ramp roots beneath the bulb.
  • After you dig a ramp, cover the bare soil with leaves. This will reduce the likelihood of invasive species taking root.

The Monongahela National Forest is the largest national forest in West Virginia and spans eight counties: Randolph, Pocahontas, Webster, Greenbrier, Pendleton, Tucker, Nicholas and Grant.