Newsletter February 2023
Early-bird Morel Mushroom Finds 2023
The 2023 Morel Mushroom season began in early January where reports of landscape morels began coming in about January 5th, 2023 in southern California. Landscape morels grow in wood chip mulch and are not mycorrhizal with particular trees as are other Morchella species. I have even had them reported in late fall as well. They lack the full amazing morel flavor but are still delicious and exciting to find! Below are a few that have been reported mainly in California, one in Las Vegas, so far this year:
There was one report from Hawaii, and I am not certain of the species, never heard back from finder with any details…
Reports from Mexico, France, Spain, and Greece have just started. This is really fairly normal for that region, however, the finds from Mexico City was very interesting, but again I never obtained any details…
My reason for this post is to explain two other Morel Mushroom reports that are very early. February 10th, 2023 a morel find was reported from Talbot County, Georgia.
Currently I live about two hours North of this location but previously lived nearly due East from it. Morels this far South are pretty rare and personally I have never found one any further South from Perry, Georgia, and it was only one. When I lived in Crawford County Georgia, I did find one favorable location with the right growing conditions and found a few around the end of February. Upon returning to that spot for a couple more years, nothing else was found so it must be sporadic fruitings this far South. I believe if it was an unusually cold winter, where there was a low temperature maybe in the mid-teens or colder, it may prompt them to fruit. I actually have had one confirmed morel find in the panhandle of Florida many years back and after investigating I found that there was a low temperature that occured there the previous winter of 8 degrees above. This winter, back in January, here locally, (Paulding County GA), I recorded a low of 4 degrees above one morning with over 3 days where it remained below freezing. Below is the photo of the only Florida morel:
Only one documented case in the Florida Panhandle in early March, 2014. Looking at weather reports in Florida from the previous winter, it was cold and wet… The panhandle even had low temps down to 8 degrees. This may have sparked a fruiting…
Back to this year’s morel mushroom find in Talbot County Georgia…. There is a huge difference in springtime progression from there to where I live, (2-hours North). My daffodils just started blooming a few days ago where I live, which is about two weeks later than last year. My Redbud tree, (which is one of my main timing indicators for morels), has not even begun to show any signs of the buds enlarging yet. Down South, daffodils began to bloom in early January and Redbuds are just starting to show color. My Son lives that far South in Georgia so I get updated weather conditions often from him. There can be a high temperature down there of 75 degrees and up here it struggled to make it to 60. There are always a few early-bird morel mushroom fruitings that are random, but often times it is because of a micro-climate. A perfect situation, South facing, and often growing very near a larger rock, which warms up during the day and retains warmth into the night, making the ground temperature warmer. Morchella americana, the common yellow morel mushroom, is triggered by a ground temperature of around 52 degrees at 3″ depth. After a few consecutive days at that temperature, the mycelium underground will begin to come out of dormancy and start the initial growing process. Usually within 10 days, tiny baby morels will emerge and start to grow, starting white to grayish in color, changing to tan and then to a golden yellow at full maturity, around 18-24 days.
The newest Morel Mushroom find was just reported in NE Tennessee, of a Black Morel species. I strongly feel that this particular early bird morel is definitely in some kind of micro climate, probably a nearby warmed rock. The find in Georgia is really not far from normal timing but this one in Tennessee is truly early, about 15+ days early. View:
Black Morels are not often found in Georgia, (I’ve sporadically found a few). They begin a light tan color and gradually get darker with age. At maturity the ridges are dark black in color. Black morel mushrooms are usually 1-2 weeks earlier than yellow morels. Their trigger temperature is around 48 degrees 3″ depth and I feel that it is even lower further North like up in Michigan. The few times that I have found them here in Georgia was actually a few days or more AFTER reports from Tennessee so I think the deep south Black Morels must have a much higher trigger temperature. This species also grows and matures in about 15 days.
An epic Morel Mushroom season requires a perfect spring- Slow and gradual warming with frequent rains keeping the soil moist but not too wet and never drying out completely. The worst thing that can happen is a quick early warm-up getting things in motion, and then a late strong cold front with sub-freezing temperatures. This can stunt, damage, or even destroy the young growing mushroom. It is ALL about the weather when it comes to morel mushrooms.
In conclusion, I wouldn’t worry too much about the few early-bird morel reports this spring. The main concern is the big warm-up this coming week where it is supposed to be in the 70s and even one 80 degree high for 5 or more days straight. This will indeed trigger early growth action here and I pray that it will be short lived and cool back down to normal quickly with NO hard freeze.
I will be uploading my annual video morel mushroom forecast for the 2023 season this coming week so be looking out for that. Please fill out and submit my mushroom newsletter/mailing list so you will receive updates, newest content, videos and more.
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