I know everyone is just itching to get out in the woods. Reports of blacks are streaming in from Cape Girardeau to Branson to Springfield and many parts in between.
I myself fell prey over the weekend and just had to get out to some of my patches to see what things looked like. I was relieved to see that there were no signs of recent flooding and that things by and large looked normal. however upon closer inspection I noticed the signs of last summer's deluge. Waterlines on trees were a good foot above my head meaning most of the area was under at least 7 foot of water. You can tell by looking at the undergrowth that was just starting to come in. It was not near as heavy as in the past and there were also signs of erosion mainluy around roots of trees within 50 feet of the bank. So there was some definite damage last year, the question is how will this effect the upcoming season. Theories suggest that it could either hurt production or even increase production, but only time will tell.
The undergrowth was just starting. Stinging nettle was only about an inch tall. There are still no leaves on any trees and only a few varieties of trees were even budding. I'd say it's still 7 to 10 days away depending on the weather. This slowly warming but very wet spring could mean a really good and long season like we haven't seen in a while. The past four years, the season has been cut short by warm spells (several days in the 90s) and by the late freeze last year. It would be nice to have a traditional season that lasts well into May for a change. that's when you can find the beer can morels by the bagful.
In the meantime, here are some goo online resources to keep you busy.
Well-known mycologist, Tom Volk, has a great article explaining the ins and outs of the Morel Life Cycle.
An article on growing black morels: Cropping the French Black Morel
Here are a few research studies examining morel picking in the northwest U.S. and parts of British Columbia. They provide some insights into the competition among western pickers and buyers as well as some insights into morel growth patterns. A little long but well worth reading.
Commercial Morel Harvesters and Buyers in Western Montana: An Exploratory Study of the 2001 Harvesting Season
Ecology and Management of Morels Harvested From the Forests of Western North America
The Ecology and Economy of Morels in British Columbia's East Kootenay
Monday, March 31, 2008