Monday, April 07, 2008

Weekend Update

Well I haven't been blogging because I have been spending any extra time I have scouting out spots trying to figure out what is going to produce this year. Saturday I had other obligations but Sunday I headed out and checked several spots along the river. I will only state my observations and let you make of them what you will. There seems to be enough speculation so I try not to jump to conclusions, especially so early in the season.

I did find morels in several spots, BUT they were all too small to pick for a meal. I did not find any up in the hills yet (even south and east facing). I only found them in the bottoms which is usual.

What was not usual is that I only found them in spots that were above the high water mark from last year's flooding. You can easily tell where this mark is by the discolored bottom trunks to all the trees. Also, you can tell from the undergrowth. Most of the flooded area has little to no undergrowth yet, while the small patches you can find that were spared are greening up well. I had several spots that have produced well the last five years, I did not find a single morel in them, except for tiny parts like the tops of embankments and earthen mounds that were above the waterline.

I fear that the four to six weeks many places spent underwater had a bad effect on the mycelium and production there this year. This was reported the seasons following the floods of 93 and 95. I hope that the areas that flooded are just a little behind and haven't flushed yet. So, who knows.

If anyone is hunting the river bottoms and has found morels in the areas flooded last summer, please let me know. I would love to hear some better news.


Anonymous said...

Here is a link to an article from Saint Louis Post Dispatch talking about how this years flooding will hurt the morel harvest this year.

ahistory said...

cool, I had not seen this. Thanks for sharing it.

ahistory said...

that link didn't work, but I dug it up and decided to post it as a comment so all can read it:

Mad about morels (from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch)


Since there's no shortage of damp places in Missouri these days, thanks to weeks of wet weather, it would stand to reason that there would be plenty of fungus among us.

But a scientist with the Missouri Department of Conservation said recent flooding could reduce the number of morel mushrooms found this spring.

Morels are a honeycomb-shaped edible mushroom prized by many chefs. It often attracts a devoted group of mushroom hunters. In Missouri, April is often the best time to find morels.

Missouri mushroom hunters, however, may have their work cut out for them this year, said Bruce Moltzan, a resource scientist and mushroom expert for the state Department of Conservation.

He explained that morels emerge each spring from bodies known as sclerotia, a brittle mass of spore-like cells. When warm, moist weather arrives, the sclerotia invest their stored nutrients by either producing root-like structures to draw in water, or by growing primordia, the familiar sponge-like cones that mushroom hunters seek.

"Morel sclerotia are amazing survival structures so flooding should not kill them," Moltzan said. "However, if during the formation time sclerotia are sitting in flooded areas, it is likely they won't form primordia this year."

The good news, Moltzan said, is that a poor morel crop this year probably would boost next year's production.

But for mushroom hunters focusing on this year, there are many ideas — much of it is folk wisdom — regarding the best places to find morels. Most mushroom hunters look for them in areas where trees have died or have been logged recently. Much depends on the weather.

Some believe that adding two weeks to the date of the last frost is the best way to predict when morels will arrive.

"Predicting the timing of morels is very complicated," Moltzan said. "To quote a prominent mycologist, 'The thrill of the hunt is what makes morelling so exciting and often so frustrating.'