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I've actually done quite a bit of research on this and have a little bit of first hand experience... But in my opinion here is the correct way to harvest morels to ensure you do not compromise previously hunted areas:

1) Cut the morel at the base. If you pull it out of the ground you are probably pulling the mycelium (basically the Morel's roots) out of the ground with it. You do not want to damage the mycelium!

I personally feel like using a knife is better than pinching as well (assuming the knife is clean). You have tons of germs and bacteria on your fingers that can get introduced by pinching it off with your fingers. Why risk damaging it?

2) Use a mesh bag! .. Once a morel is "mature" it will begin to release spores. Even after it naturally releases all of it's spores there will still be some left behind on the morel itself. Using a mesh bag will just increase the odds of more spores getting released back to the ground while you tromp through the woods with your morel MESH bag bouncing around. If you're using a plastic bag, the spores are trapped!

morelmaniac (on these forums) gave me an awesome piece of advice. use a laundry bag from Wal-Mart or wherever as your mesh bag. They are cheap and a lot less likely to tear your morels up as maybe a potato or onion bag.

3) This last tip is easier said than done: Wait until the morel matures to pick it. Or leave a few morels untouched so that they have a chance to mature and release their own spores.

This probably speaks for itself but basically the idea is if you are hunting an area extremely hard and don't let any of the morels reach maturity and release their spores, you're decreasing your chances of finding lots of morels in the same area in years to come!

Last tip.... When you're rinsing your morels out, either dump the rinse water in an area where you would like to see morels grow, or dump the rinse water into paper bags and let the paper bag "filter" the water out. The spores will be left behind in your paper bag. You can "plant" your paper bag in an area of your choosing and morels will most likely start to pop out of the ground 3-6 years after you've planted your spore-filled paper bag.
 

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This is great information for people that are just starting to find morels. I totally agree with the "cutting" of the morel vs. pulling up the whole root... it would be no different that a plant. You certainly don't pull that up by the root. I see many out there taking photos of there shrooms with mud and roots on the bottom. Thank you for the advice on the spores spreading will give that a try for sure... :wink:
 

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In regards to dumping the rinse water in an area where you would like to see morels grow, I have been shrooming for about 10 years. I always dump the rinse water in my back yard next to my deck. Last year I found a Morel in the exact same spot. Unfortunately, by the time I found it, it was too dried out to harvest.
 
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