Thursday, May 01, 2008

Do mushrooms continue to pop?

This question was asked by an anonymous reader and it is one I am asked often, so I figured I would just reply in a post. It is such a simple question, however the answer is of much debate among both scientists and hunters alike. Just ask any two and you are sure to get a different opinion. But from my own research on the commercial growing of morels and from my own experiences hunting, here is my thoughts on the matter.

First let me differentiate a between the words flush and pop. When I say flush, I mean when the sclerotia first forms mushrooms. Personally, I believe that morels only flush once in the same spot. I think, in any one spot, the morels all generally form within the first few days of the season and then they have varying growth spurts depending on soil conditions and exposure to the elements (shade, sun, etc.).

This explains why you can walk a patch one day find some and return the next and find more. The ones on the second day were there the day before, they were just still small and hidden under the leaves so you didn't see them.

Mushrooms can grow quite fast, and in my own experience growth is related to the amount of moisture in the ground and the air temperature, with more emphasis on air temps. Temps above 70 will increase growth. I have seen mushrooms that were only an inch grow to nearly 4 inches in less than 24 hours in 80 degree weather. This sudden growth certainly does give the impression that the mushrooms pop up seemingly out of nowhere.

So, to answer your question, morels only flush once in a spot, but they continue to pop up throughout the season giving the impression that new mushrooms are forming when in fact the popping is only small mushrooms that were already there that grew.

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