Well, for me the year starts pretty early in the spring. I watch the weather in the April/May. If there is a frost while the catkins are in full bloom then I worry. It could mean that large swaths of hickory groves won’t produce a nut. Thankfully the groves are in different micro-climates, so if one grove doesn’t produce others may.
I watch the trees all summer for signs of nuts. They will self-select throughout the summer. The tre
es often know which nuts will not mature. Sometimes in the spring they put in a lot of effort to make as many nuts as they can. Throughout the season they focus their effort on the most viable nuts and drop the rejects. Just be careful where you put your hammock.
In September is when the real fun begins! Hickory nuts fall from the skies! I drive in a circuit around the county gathering the nuts from the ground. I put them in buckets, rubbermaids, and anything else I can find.
I take those nuts and drop them in a bucket of water. If they sink then they are nutty gold. I put them in mesh containers and set them aside as Grade A. If they float I can eye the worst ones and remove them. The rest I set aside as Grade B. Those are the ones I save for myself to eat.
From there I simply put them in mesh containers to dry. I pour them from container to container every so often to make sure they dry evenly.
I leave it up to you to roast them.