Morel Mushrooms - Seasonal Progression
By Matt K. April 13th 2017
Every spring, thousands take to the woods searching for the elusive Morel Mushroom. Although each state has its own unique environment to host these tasty morsels, many basic principles can be used and applied while out searching. In this article, we hope to offer some insight on where to start and continue searching for the Morel Mushroom motherload!
Morel Mushrooms start their growth during the spring months in the U.S. Depending on what state you are in, the season can begin as early as February and as late as May for the northern States. Morel Mushrooms require very specific environments in order to develop. A general list of these variables are:
- Soil Temperature
- Soil Moisture Content
Different combinations of these variables allow Morels to grow rapidly and thrive, or struggle and be non-existent.
Beginning of the Season
Pulling from the list above, we know that soil temperature and sunlight are key ingredients in getting the spores to begin their growing phases. Southern facing and southern exposed hillsides including field edges are great spots to begin your season. Facing south, these landscapes absorb the most sunlight throughout the shorter spring days, which allow soil temperatures to rise at a quicker pace than flat tops or northern facing lands. Many times you will find smaller grays as your first of the season in these locations.
Middle of the Season
As the early season days progress, you will notice that some Morels you find have a dry feel and look to them on the southern exposed areas. You will also notice that larger yellow Morels have developed in these locations. Now is the time to advance your searches further up the hillsides heading north, and deeper into the woods if you are hunting flat land.
During this period, many variables of the equation are coming together with April rain showers, and warmer temperatures. For many of the southern states, including a few northern states such as MO, IA, IL and IN, this time can be very rewarding and plentiful. Morel Mushrooms grow at a faster rate given the correct moisture content and sunlight. Sometimes too much sunlight can cause the soil to dry out, so typically a good mix of sun and shaded areas are most productive. Heavy canopy areas are also great locations to search because the lack of direct sun allows moisture in the soil to be retained.
Some also call this period the "Prime Season." Clusters of Morels grow during this time, and will have a long life period because of the cooler temperatures at night.
End of Season
Depending on your state or area, Morel Mushroom growth seasons can vary from a couple weeks up to a drawn out month. While the season is wrapping up in the southern states, much of the Morel season is just beginning in the northern states such as MN, WI, and MI. In these states, the same cycle applies.
During the tail end of the Morel Mushroom season, most southern exposed environments are fully developed with other foliage including Ferns, Nettles, and May Apples to name a few. Sunlight has beaten down on these areas for several weeks now, and it has become a hostile environment for the delicate Morel to grow.
Scattered sparsely further into the woods, and further up the hills heading north, you will find dried out clumps that may have been missed, or were late bloomers.
Now is the time to focus on your Northern facing ridges, hillsides, and field edges. Because these areas have not received the amount of sunlight as the southern exposed areas over the past 3 weeks, conditions can be prime for a late season flush.
Some of your biggest Morels can be found during this period. Given the right environment, many yellows have had a couple weeks to fully develop.
Using these basic principles to determine where your season is at during your hunt will allow you to be more efficient with your time, and help you locate where your best chances are at finding Morels. Whether you are a first time Morel Mushroom Hunter, or Seasoned Spore Squad Legend, we hope these tips help with your successes while out hunting the elusive Morel Mushroom.