Morel Mushrooms Require Ideal Growing Conditions For a Great Harvest
Morels require very specific soil balance, sunlight, air movement, soil temperature and moisture and humidity conditions in which to grow. Because of this need for ideal balance, the season for morels is very limited, and, depending upon seasonal conditions, may not even exist at all in a given year.
For example, in May of 2007, we harvested in excess of a bushel and a half of morels over a 16-hour (3 day) period, then terminated the harvest because we had more mushrooms than we could reasonably use. The following year, we harvested less than 5 pounds over a two-week span in late May, but, again in June, 2009, we harvested 14 lbs. in five hours. Why? In 2007, rainfall and temperature were in perfect balance at just the right time. In 2008, spring rains fell early, but then the weather turned cold. In 2009, the season arrived late, but temperature and moisture conditions were again ideal at the right time.
Morels prefer no more than 12 hours of sunlight, 12 hours of dark to fruit. Match that with air temperatures of 65-80F, soil temperatures of 65F, and high relative humidity combined with moist soil, and you have a great likelihood of morel harvest success. mushrooms canada Of course, if the morels do not have the right soil conditions in the first place, they will not have set their “tendrils” of spiderweb-like root systems under the soil in prior years, and, so, will not produce fruits.
Ideally, morels like a rich organic soil that is found in decaying leaves of such trees as ash and elm (although they will enjoy other deciduous decay). The soil has to be sufficiently loose to allow for the network of tendrils to develop under the leaf trash carpet of a woodland or grassy area, but have the right ph balance, and the ability to hold moisture without becoming waterlogged.
Gentle to moderate slopes of wooded hills and mountains provide that rich soil, that filtered half and half sunlight to darkness balance, and the gentle air movement required.
Deciduous forests with modest undergrowth frequently are sites of prolific growth for morels, as is the edges of woodland trails, where grasses are not overcrowded or too tall.
Many morel hunters report that morels do well in the year after a “burn” of an area, or in areas where there has been a surface disturbance of the soil, such as a logging event. Probably this is due to two factors: the rush of nutrients that are released into the soil, and the elimination of other plants that may have choked light and moisture or blocked sunlight from the smaller morels.
You will probably have your greatest success if you look in these key areas after a rain, when grasses and dead leaves are compacted by the rain, allowing morels to thrust above this compacted debris. By calculating where optimum conditions may exist for morel growth, and selecting the ideal time and day to hunt, you will increase your success rate dramatically.