March 14th and Morel Season is right around the corner in the Great Valley of East Tennessee. It’s still cold, although we’ve gotten a few wam days. Early blood root is blooming in my backyard wild flower garden and some erect trillium is almost ready to bloom. I’ve been feeding the fever by painting a few more watercolors. I’ll probably take some to the AMC foray April 6.
What’s the prognostication? Right now rainfall is about 6-7 inches above normal since January 1st. Night temperatures have held steady in the 20’s and 30’swith a few colder dips in December. Soil temperature is still about 40 degrees. We should get a flush when the soil temp reaches 50 degrees. Steve P. says that takes five straight nights with lows of 50 degrees or higher. That’s a good rule of thumb. Because sun angle affects soil temperature, look on the south ridge tops first. Rich S. says look for morels when poplar leaves get the size of squirrel ears. This works too. As for yellow morels, look when the bluebells bloom.
Last year was strange. We had a rash of hot weather early, on top of of drier conditions. With some 80 degree days, soil temp went above 55 degrees quickly and it was a short and sparse season in the Valley. I found my first one on March 20, but most usually productive patches started to produce and then abruptly stopped when the soil temp shot up. Rains have been occuring on a weekly basis. Rain is predicted for Sunday and Monday. If our weather stays steady and then warms gradually, we should have a bumper crop.
I’ve gotten reports of morels in south Georgia and the wave will be spreading northward soon. Next Monday I am heading to Alabama. Predicted temps in Birmingham are warm days and nights beginning tomorrow (Friday) and lasting until Thursday. I’ll be stopping at some productive patches there on Tuesday and again on Thursday. I’ll post my results here. I will also be checking out some new sites south of Tuscaloosa in the Black Warrior River area also on Wednesday.
Now that I am retired, I will be hunting morels everyday until mid-April, so look for reports and also recipes. Ramps were early last year and then the heat got them. This should be a good ramp year also. My backyard patch is still not up.
If you come to Tennessee REMEMBER that turkey season opens Saturday March 30th. Wear orange, especially in the early morning.