Country Traditions

September 13, 2010

Mushroom Hunting

Filed under: mushrooms — Tags: , , , , — dmacc502 @ 1:08 am
The morel mushroom Morchella esculenta (L.) Pe...

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About the Morel Mushroom Season...

The morel mushroom season varies across the United States depending on the region in which you are located. Typically it arrives in the spring months for most regions. ManyMushroom imagevariables such as air temperature, ground temperature and rain levels impact the growing cycle and how bountiful the crop. There have been many studies as to how, where and why the morels make their grand appearance in certain conditions and not others. Most mushroom hunters will present all kinds of “SWATS” (Scientific Wild Ass Theories) on how, where, and when to find them. Almost every mushroom hunter will have a few “SWATS” of their own, some with merit, while others are just that….theories. You can find detailed answers to various questions regarding the growing season and more on the FAQ page.

Typically they are found in moist areas, around dying or dead Elm trees, Sycamore and Ash trees, old apple orchards and maybe even in your own back yard. Ground cover varies and it is very likely that each patch of mushrooms you come across may be growing in totally different conditions. It is a common practice of shoomer’s to hit their favorite spots year after year.

If you are a first time hunter, you should make your first hunting expedition with someone who knows what a good morel looks like. There are several types of morels, some edible and others poisonous. The woods will dole out many types of fungi to the hunter, therefore, The Great Morel recommends that all shroomers – rookies and veterans alike visit Edible and Poisonous Mushroom Page by Barbara Bassett, Naturalist. This site has great images of the good, the bad and the uglies! Click here for other great sources of morel identification as well as make sure to visit The Great Morel’s page on the false morel.

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Do morels grow in my region of the United States?
This is an often-asked question and with the exception of a few geographical areas, the answer is more than likely -yes. However, while it seems the Great Lakes region in the midwest is the hot bed for the morel, the morels are found in most regions of the US with the exception of the desert and deep southern coastal areas. The Great Morel suggests that you contact your area’s nature and wildlife department for assistance as an added information source. You can also check out The Great Morel’s sighting mapsto see when your region is having harvesting activity. While there are many places where the morel is not natural to the geography, it also is not uncommon to find them in mulch beds for what The Great Morel refers to as “landscape morels”.

When is the growing season in my region?
This will depend on your geographical location. The morel season for most of the United States typically runs from early-to-mid April on through mid-June. Depending on your geographical location, your season could be plus or minus a week. The season will typically kick in about mid-April in the Great Lakes region. If one is uncertain, contacting your state’s nature and wildlife department for assistance is a good idea if you can’t find anyone to assist you. You can also check out The Great Morel’s sighting maps to see if they are popping in your neck of the woods. The sightings map is a pretty good reference to the season for the various regions of the US.

When should I start looking and where?
Great question. Narrow down your region’s season for starters. Once you have determined that “yes” they are out there then the adventure begins. Many seasoned hunters have their favorite areas. Dead or dying elms, old apple orchards, old ash, poplar trees and yes even pines. It truly can be a hit and miss adventure at times. Not every elm you cross will have morels around it so don’t get discouraged. Depending on your region, you may have to look harder than others. My good friends at the The Morelmasters have a great page on their site that is really helpful for beginners. Keep in mind the tips and suggestions from this link are coming from southern Wisconsin morel hunters where the morels are plentiful. But still they offer some great pictures and concepts. Often times morel hunters have a particular type of wooded growth that attracts them and this comes with experience and lots of trial and error….and luck!For those who are unfamiliar with tree identification, the Ohio Public Library Information Network has this great page to get you started in tree identification.

Oh, and if you are just beginning see if you can find someone who will let you tag along and have them share their tips and tricks.

What effect does the weather have on the morel’s growth habits?
The Great Morel is not aware of any actual scientific study on this subject (if you have one please send it along), however, most hunters will agree that the weather more than any other variable has the most impact on the morel season. This includes air and ground temperatures along with moisture levels in the ground. Typical spring weather with daytime temperatures moderating between 60-70 degree range and nighttime lows of not less then the mid-40’s are usually ideal. Too much soil moisture is not a good thing nor is too dry of soil. Again, it’s tough to determine at what point rain levels are too high, but too much rain can sometime have a negative effect. Not enough rain is definitely not good for the morel either. Soil temperatures will typically range from 50 to 60 degrees. It is not uncommon to find morels after a light frost or even snow, however, it is most likely that the morel had already made its grand appearance prior to the snow. You can check out the various sites relating to weather and soil conditions on the Links and Info page under the Maps section.


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