(Im) Patiently Waiting for Spring

As I sit here this 25th of March, staring out my window at all of the snow falling down, I can’t help but wonder, “WHEN is it going to warm up!”. Last year about this time, it was already in the mid-80s. However, it was also one of the worst Morel seasons I have seen in a while. So, as I try to keep my patience for the delicious treats spring will bring, I thought I would write a bit about what exactly I’m waiting for before I head out.

Most of the time when you think about mushrooms, moisture is usually what comes to mind. “Well, we had a really wet winter, so the mushrooms and spring edibles will be in abundance!” Well, yes and no. Rain and moisture (or in my case right now, snow) do play a very key role in most if not all mushrooms, however, they are not the biggest determining factor.

No matter the time of year, the main thing you must keep an eye on is temperature! Right now my area is no where near where it needs to be for me to even think about starting to look. You can be sure I am keeping a close eye on the forecasts each week. I actually was planning on taking out some beginners in a couple of weeks, but from the look things, we will most likely have to postpone. For morels, the best time to start is when the nightly low temperatures stay around 40-50 consistently for at least a week, while the daytime temperatures stay at around 65-75. If it has been unusually dry, the growth may not be as abundant, but it will still be a good time to look. If you start to get antsy, like I do, and go out a little early in the season, you should at least start to see some Devil’s Urn mushrooms, newly growing Trillium and a few other early bloomers a week or two before you will start seeing the Morels. I went out the other day because I was getting cabin fever and just itching to get out in the woods, and I didn’t see a single indicator, and knew I was entirely too early.

Devil's Urn (left) & Young Trillium (right)
 Temperature is a key ingredient for foraging mushrooms all year long. As mentioned before, last year was a terrible year for Morels! Why? It got hot entirely too quickly. Once that heat and humidity strike, Morels are done for. It shot up from the nice, pleasant mid-70’s range into the high 80’s within weeks last year, and the humidity rose fairly quickly. From what I have been reading with fellow mushroomers all over the country, the story was the same everywhere.

 However, although Morels may not love that hot weather, the Chanterelle, Black Trumpets and Bolete certainly do! It definitely helped that last year we had an above average rainfall throughout the summer. I remember going out quite a few times in the rain, because there just were no clear days in sight. These mushrooms prefer the hot, humid climate of mid to late summer, and thrive in damp soil. Once it gets below 80, Chanterelle and Black Trumpets are pretty much done for the season.

Temperature plays such a key role in all mushrooms. From the Morels in the Spring, the Chanterelle in the hot summer, the Inky Caps of the fall, and the Oysters of the winter...they all have their temperature preferences, and are quite sensitive to changes in them.

So...keep a close eye on the temps in your area (I know Southern Georgia is already seeing a lot of Morels!) and until next time Happy Hunting!

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