Finally, it’s here in the Great Valley of East Tennessee. Conditions are perfect for a Wonderful Week of morel hunting beginning this weekend.. The ground has been wet for months. This past Saturday we got .75 inches at my house. Today the temp is going up to 70 and will be in the 70′s until Saturday (5 days) with night time lows around 50+. Then on Friday, there will be scattered showers as a cool front comes through. This will keep the leaves down as well as refresh the moisture. I believe it will be wonderful morel hunting this weekend if you are in the right place. Can’t wait, so I’m going after ramps tomorrow. The ones in my backyard have emerged so it’s time to get to the woods.
In the meantime . . . we put in some trout lillies about 10 years ago. They have been spreading but not blooming, which is normal for a beginning patch. Last year we had three blooms, which was a hint that the patch(s) are reaching maturity. So, this year we have about 15 blooms in three different patches. It has been a joy to watch Spring come in with such a delightful flower.
My friend Charles Woolum (R.I.P.) always said that morels come in when the blue bells are blooming. Here is a blue bell in my backyard beginning to bloom.
The blood root has been around since my last post, but we are still seeing some new blooms.
Whitey – Monday 3/31/2014
Everything Mushrooms is a Knoxville business that is exactly what the name implies. They specialize in grain and wood spawn, cultivation kits, logs, a complete supply line for growers, books galore for the forager and/or medicinally inclined, and of course –>fresh mushrooms.. I said “they”, but now it’s “we”, because I’m helping out there a couple of days a week. I’m excited about associating with “EM” and want to tell my followers about it. For now, I will be available “up front” at the store on Modays, so bring your weekend mushroom finds and we can work on identification for you.
For now, I’ll fill in on customer service and work in the lab while I get a good grasp on the breadth of our activities and products. I’m excited because I get to learn, talk mushrooms, share and teach. Yes, teach – back in the saddle. I will offer mushroom identification classes and be available to help people one-on-one as they bring in their unknowns for inspection. Hopefully, I can facilitate some type of formal or semi-formal group of mycophiles that want to gather, foray and learn together. A club perhaps? EM is a perfect place for meetings and learning. I’ll post more as time goes on; which it certainly will.
Our Spring mushroom identification (basic level) class with be held Thursday May 1, 6-8. p.m. Details for this and other events can be found on EM’s Workshops and Events page. Learn basic identifying characteristic of common edibles and their look-alikes. Review field guides and mushroom related products before you buy yours.It is intentionally being held between morel season and the beginning of summer mushrooms. Get ready for those early summer milk caps!!
If you are interested in forming a group or club in the Knoxville area, be sure to come on May 1. Such a club would be able to meet in a spacious area at Everything Mushrooms. Clubs are the best way to improve your skills as you go on group forays, hear speakers and develop a peer group of like minded individuals. If you do not wish to sign up for the workshop, be sure and show up at 8 p.m. (end of workshop) so we can identify potential leaders and begin a mail list of potential mushroom club members.
Here it is, the dead of winter, and thus no pictures of mushrooms to post. My head is filled with images of morels soon to come, however, as I begin to dream of the BIG YEAR. There are a number of reasons why I think this will be a great year – possibly a bumper crop.
2011 was our last very good year here in Tennessee. Then, in 2011, the early spring temperature soared from just right to 80 degrees in a week it seemed. Conditions were hot and dry and morels were scarce. On the other hand, in mid-August we were flooded with Lobsters for about a week. By flooded I mean almost every pine stand I looked in. I had never found more than 10-15 pounds before in the patches that I hunted. In 2012 I found probably 150 pounds. That’s what I mean by bumper crop.
Last year, 2013, the weather pattern was quite different. We had a wet Spring and the weather was cool. In fact, the soil temperature did not reach 50 degree until late April which is usually past morel season here. As a result the season was stretched out over 5-6 weeks and hunting our usually high-yield patches produced only about 20 or so each foray with 2 people hunting, and my partners in crime were experts. The rains continued through the summer and we had only about 7 days with temperatures above 90 – our usual is 20 or more days. As a result, chanterelles began to appear in mid-May and continued until late August. Normally the season is roughly July 1 – Sept 1. The crop was abundant, and I found about 250 pounds versus my highest season of 100 pounds, over a 20-year period.
So, 2011 was great morels, 2012 was fantastic lobsters and last year was fabulous chanterelles. I believe it’s morels again in 2014. Why?, one might ask. To start with, we ended 2013 with an annual rainfall 20 inches above normal. Second, we are now in the middle of the deepest cold spell in a decade. It is holding in the teens for three days with a low of ZERO tonight. Both my reading, my experience, and the experience of friends indicates that morels need a cold spell to stimulate maximum production. Of course, all this will be tempered by the actual temperature/rainfall mix in March and April.
Bottom line is that I am highly optimistic about the upcoming morel season – at least in the Great Valley. We shall see . . . . . .