The first signs of spring are here and morel mushroom hunters across the country are anxiously waiting for their favorite time of year! Morel season!
The days are getting longer, temperatures are on the rise, and snow soon changes to rain.
The once boring, dead landscape is becoming greener with every day of sunshine and the early spring rains bring much needed moisture to the plant life that lay dormant all winter.
And if you are crazy about morels you know that all of these things mean one thing. You are that much closer to finding that first patch of those delicious mushrooms you have waiting all year for.
Tips and Tricks to Help You Find More Morel Mushrooms This Spring
1.) It’s all about the timing.
Hunting morels is a bit of a mystery to the world. Nobody quite understands why or what makes them pop, when and where they do, but a few things are proven season after season.
One of the biggest factors in predicting when morels will pop is finding the right ground temperature. Typically when the soil temps creep up to that 55-58 degree mark, measuring about 4″ down into the ground, its time to start looking for the first true morels of the year.
A good tell is usually a few days after the dandelions start to show up.
It usually takes a solid 3-5 days of lows in the 50’s to get the morel mushrooms going.
2.) Know what trees produce morel mushrooms.
Where do morel mushrooms grow?
When looking for morel mushrooms, there are a few things a mushroom hunter can focus on to improve their haul. Morels seem to grow around certain types of trees and appear to favor some more than others.
Knowing what trees to look for in the woods will greatly increase your odds of finding more morel mushrooms. Cottonwoods, dead elm trees, ash trees, and apple trees are often the biggest producers of morel mushrooms.
Other trees can and will have morels growing around them, but if I am walking through the woods, I am without a doubt focusing on these 4 specific trees.
Live trees can and will produce a few morel mushrooms, however, the majority are found around dead or dying trees. Look for trees with little to no leaves. The dying trees that still have the majority of their bark still on their trunk seem to be top of the line in terms of morel mushroom producers.
Morel hunters shouldn’t forget to check under pine trees late in the season!
3.) Be aware of your moisture levels.
When planning on when and were to look for morel mushrooms, it is important to watch your recent rain fall totals for the areas in which you plan on looking.
One thing that is often overlooked is the precipitation amounts over the course of the winter.
Areas that had steady or heavy snow fall over the course of the winter will typically produce more morel mushrooms.
The early spring melt keeps the ground saturated and allows for early moisture to make its way to the plant systems of the ecosystem.
Here is the link I use to check current and previous precipitation levels.
4.) Know the order in which things typically warm up.
My rule of thumb is usually as follows:
South facing slopes and open areas and burned areas typically produce some of the earliest morel mushrooms of the season. I believe this to be true due to the lack of surrounding vegetation in burned areas as well as the surplus of sunlight that hits these areas.
Next to produce morels are usually flood plains, followed by river bottoms, creek bottoms, and then wooded areas in higher elevation.
Its not a science by any means, but following this guideline typically puts you in the right place at the right time to find morel mushrooms as the become available.
5.) Don’t overlook the open areas!
Some of my best morel mushroom hunting has come in areas of what appear to be nothing more than open green grass.
Fresh burns are often times very productive areas for morel mushrooms.
Logging sites are also big time morel mushroom producers and to the naked eye often times resemble nothing more than a field of green grass.
Look for short stumps, wood piles, and even wood chip piles that are often times left behind in logging areas.
Last but not least, flood plains are often monster morel mushroom producers. Find areas where water is receding in or near wooded areas.
Heck, I have even found them in cornfields!
6.) Know the difference between false morel mushrooms, grey morel mushrooms and yellow morel mushrooms!
Morel mushrooms come in all different shapes, sizes, and even colors. Learn your mushroom identification and familiarize yourself with different species of mushrooms.
The grey morels typically appear earlier than the yellow morels. The grey morels are typically much smaller in size and often times much more difficult to spot.
Trust your trees and when you find a good one, walk slow and diligently. Grey morels tend to favor darker, leafier areas, often times next to dead trees in piles of fallen bark.
7.) Where there is one……
Like many wild mushrooms, morels tend to grow together when the conditions are favorable. Usually when you find one, more are nearby. If I come across one or two, especially when next to a favorable tree, I will typically set my bag down where I found the initial morels as a marker. From there I will explore the outer edges on all sides and work my way out until I stop finding them. You might be surprised what is hiding just out of view!
There you have it, 7 tips to help you increase your morel mushroom haul this spring! I would love any feedback and please share your stories in the comments or email us and let me know how your hike in the woods treated you! Happy hunting!