Morel mushroom hunting tips:
Believe it or not, but you can actually grow morels at home. However, they are not grown commercially because they are so damn unpredictable.
(Click here to checkout the Morel Growing Habitat Kit)
Even though morels are unpredictable, there are some signs to look for when hunting them:
Time of year: I generally find morels and other mushrooms in the late spring and early fall. The reason being that these are the wettest times of year and the temperature is just right. A good tell tale sign is that there are other mushrooms. If the climate is good for unedible mushrooms in your yard, then it’s probably a good time for morels as well. Morels will start appearing when the temperature is around 60 degrees during that day.
Location: This is a hard one since morels are so unpredictable. I have spent days in the woods without any luck only to find them growing on the side of my neighbor’s driveway. In the early spring/late fall you will have better luck looking on south facing hillsides. The reason being that they get more sunlight and as such are warmer. You also want to search in an area that is diverse: That is to say an area that is both wooded but also has meadows. Meadows get more sun and are warmer, which at times is an advantage. However, wooded areas are cooler, which can also be an advantage depending on the climate. As previously stated, they are unpredictable, as such, diversity in woodland is important.
Rain: As with most mushrooms, morels like rain. A good warm rain will bring out morels. However, you may need to wait a few days for the rain to soak in for the mushrooms to sprout up.
Companion Plants: There are plants that thrive in the same environment as morels. As such, it’s a good idea to keep an eye out for them when looking for a good hunting ground. Obviously, an area with other types of mushrooms is a great sign. Moss and ferns are also a great sign since, as with mushrooms, they need a somewhat damp environment. Trees such as Ash, Elm, and Poplar are also a good sign.
Soil: Morels like disturbed soil with good drainage. Old logging sites can be a great place to start. As previously stated, they are unpredictable as hell.
Elevation: Temperature and moisture are effected by elevation. Just because there are mushrooms in your yard, doesn’t necessarily mean that there will be any at a higher elevation. However, this is a double-edged sword. Just because it’s too hot at your house doesn’t mean that it isn’t cooler and wetter at higher elevations.
Walk in a spiral: Yay, you found your first morel! Where you find one, there will be many. When looking for mushrooms, I like to use the first mushrooms as the center of my search. I walk in an ever growing spiral from the point where I found my first mushroom.
Funny mushroom story:
There are a lot of mushrooms in my local area. When I was a young child of about 11-12, I would spend a lot of time hanging out with the local mushroom buyers. I thought that mushroom collectors were the most fascinating people around. They typically had gruff beards, dirty clothing, and above all carried really big knives. To me they were rugged mountain men who live off the land and answered to nobody.
One day a mushroom collector came in. He was a regular and the buyer asked him how his day went. The mushroom collector sighed and said that he had come across a good group of King Bolete mushrooms. However, no sooner did he find them than he heard someone walking through the woods. He was frightened that they might find his glorious treasure trove. So he did the most logical thing and quickly threw some leaves over them (yes, he could have just frantically picked them, but I don’t think he was a Noble Prize winner). Anywho, when he came back a short time later he found that this mystery person had found them despite his best attempts and had picked them all.
After the man had been paid and left, another regular mushroom collector came in. The mushroom buyer asked him how his day went. The mushroom collector said that he had a great day and that the weirdest thing had happened. He had been searching the woods without any luck. Suddenly he heard something rustling in the woods. He wasn’t sure what it was and paused thinking that it might be a bear. After the sound stopped, he went to investigate. He suddenly came upon a bunch of turned over leaves and branches that were covering a trove of mushrooms.