Newsletter May 2005
Morel Mushroom Hunting Club
" Georgia Motherlode"
By: Chris Matherly
In March, 2003, I received an email from Roger R. in Jasper County, Georgia. He had been turkey hunting and stumbled across what he thought may be Morel Mushrooms. He resides about an hour and 20 minutes North of me. He described them, and at the time, were very small still. He had a relative from Michigan, and had seem some years before, but just was not sure about an ID. I kept in touch with him, and said they were growing, and I set up a time to meet him, so that I could check out his find and prove whether they were Morels or not. I arrived and we walked down the four-wheel-drive path into a pine thicket. I was thinking, sure doesn't look favorable so far.... We soon turned off the trail and into the woods, and I could spot a deciduous transition ahead. Things were looking better. We came into a low lying area, and was more overgrown with weeds and bushes than the woods we had came through. It was very wet lowlands, and even muddy in a few areas, and we had to cross over a series of small ditches with water standing. Up ahead, I was encouraged, as I spotted several Ash Trees. Also Poplars. From 30 yards I saw large orange masses in the distance. I could not believe my eyes. The closer I got, my eyes grew larger. I could see dozens of very large Morchella esculentas. I had only found a few of these larger Morels in the state of Georgia, never in such masses. The most common Morel I had normally found in Georgia was Morchella deliciosa, the slender Morel, under Poplar trees. This particular area was all lowlands, and Ash Trees were dominant, with a few Poplars and Box Elders mixed in. The soil was extremely dark, black, rich and moist. I immediately could tell this spot was Morel Heaven, and probably had been producing Morels here in the same area for hundreds of years. It was simply prime Morel habitat. There was a stream nearby, and I found one right on the edge of the bank. I looked across the stream, and could easily see that there were Ash trees across the creek and it looked very similar conditions to where we had been finding them. From 35 yards away, standing on the edge of the creek bank, I saw a large Ash Tree, and spotted an "Orange" shape at it's base. I notified Roger, and he said " Chris, I am not going to believe it if you actually spotted a Morel from 100 feet away!" We crossed over and went to the tree, and sure enough, there it was, an 8" giant Morel, in full glory. (Along with a few dozen others that we found across the creek)!
Every 2-3 feet were large Morels!
April 1st, 2003: This is no April fools! Roger Reynolds and Chris Matherly found 158 very large yellow Morels (5-8 inches) (total of about 25 pounds!) in Jasper County, Georgia. It was one of the best spots I have ever been to with large morels about every 3 feet or closer for hundreds of feet in rich lowlands with mainly Ash, Box Elder, Sycamore, River Birch, and Poplar trees. This was no mushroom hunt, simply a harvest! Unbelievable!
Chris' Tailgate! Roger Reynolds started his first shrooming experience off with a bang!
8" Monster! Not bad, eh? Photos by: Chris Matherly
Below is the most common Morel I had normally found in Georgia was Morchella deliciosa, the slender Morel, under Poplar trees.
The second year, (2004), I decided to try and do a Morel Growth Study. Pam Kaminski had done it with Black Morels. (This can be viewed in the member areas). I wanted to do it with Morchella esculenta, simply to prove once and for all that the smaller, thicker Gray Morel that soon follows the blacks will grow into a large Yellow Morel. Not a different species. For me, it was a 3 hour drive there and back, so it was a lot of devotion and time consuming to pull this off. I kept in touch with Roger R. and he notified me that he had seen just a few small Grays, so I went to photograph them. I picked several subjects, and good thing that I did, because a few dried up or withered away, but I got some amazing results. Clearly, below you can see that it started Gray and 2.5" and ended up Yellow and 6"! This was over a 15 day period, and prior to the first photograph, it was there at least another week or more. This means that they grow slowly over a 3 week period, not pop up overnight. Not don't get me wrong. If there is a lot of moisture, and they have began to grow, then it hits 90 degrees for a few days in a row, they will rapidly mature, but under normal conditions, it is a much slower process. You can view Pam Kaminski's entire Growth Study, as well as mine in the member areas.
March 22nd, 2004 April 6th, 2004
Additionally, the second year, we hit some amazing Morels again in the same patch! The other interesting thing is, that there was only .25" of rain the entire month of March in 2004. But they still were plentiful, and big. Obviously there is a high water table in this spot.
April 8th, 2004: Roger R. and Chris Matherly found 125 giant yellow Morels in Jasper County, Georgia. The largest was just shy of 8 inches. These are all quite large Morels, and total weight nearly 15 pounds! This area is where we found them at last year, and originally only held 4 this season, and we left them to do the Morel growth study, viewable in the member areas, and went out to film the final series of pictures, and was very surprised to find 125!
Now, this past year(2005), the season was much wetter, and much later. We had over 6 inches of rain. When we went to our spot, it was hard to even get to, as water was standing. There was even mud that you would sink in where we had found some last year, obviously too wet for Morels in these areas. But overall, they were still there, and in abundance. Evidently, the excess moisture made them grow to extreme size, as our largest one was a full 11" Monster!
April 12th, 2005: Chris M, and Roger R, found 114 Giant Yellow Morels, in Jasper County, GA. The tallest was 11 inches, one 10", several 8 inchers. These will be featured on the upcoming Georgia Motherload Video.
I have been able to photograph some of the most amazing Morels at this location, as well as film much content of digital video. I will be putting together a fabulous DVD titled "The Georgia Motherlode" and should have it complete and offer it this Fall. If you are interested in this DVD, please send me an email, and I will notify you when it is available. You won't want to miss it!
A special thanks to Roger, for contacting me originally, and keeping me included and sharing this wonderful Morel Heaven Spot.