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The 5 conditions that mushrooms need

Discussion in 'Iowa' started by shroomboomblio, May 8, 2014.

  1. shroomboomblio

    shroomboomblio Morel Enthusiast

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    Morel mushrooms need 5 things to emerge and the reason they are so elusive is all five have to fall into place correctly or when the other conditions are present before they can push through the ground and produce the above ground bloom that sends out spores and produces what we all know as a morel.

    1. Morchella (Morel) Mushrooms propogate by sending a hairlike mycelium underground.
    The ground can’t be so compact that it blocks the mycelium from doing it’s thing. This is also where the moisture and heat help soften the soil as things thaw out in the spring. The ground being less compact and saturated with extra moisture are also what makes streams and creekbeds such good places to check.

    2. The mycelium needs to find a subsoil food source (decaying tree roots) or surface seeping food source (fallen bark) for the energy and nutrients it expands as it sends the mushroom top up through the soil. This is where the dead roots of mature elms or slipping bark around the base of recently dead tree become one of the critical elements necessary for fruition.

    3. In many of the books I’ve read they say that night time temperatures need to be above 40 degrees for at least 4 days in a row.The overnight lows and daytime highs are key in creating the necessary ground temperatures that everyone knows are a big factor. This is also why burn areas warm up faster and tend to help create necessary conditions when the blackened earth helps warm the soil and create food sources for the mycelium by killing the trees or outer bark.

    4. Daytime temperatures need to be at least above 70 degrees for one or more days as well as the overnight lows remaining above 40 degrees before they come out of their dormant state from winter. The combination of overnight lows and daytime highs directly determine ground temperature.

    5. The last and probably the most critical thing to fall in place is the moisture! We all know how important it is to have moisture at the right times, but we also need the moisture along with heat. Even though we’ve had late spring rains and more moisture than previous years we need the heat and moisture together to create the correct growing conditions that Morchella mushrooms need. Even though the mycelia underground start to awaken once ground temps come up they also need hot days to really do their thing and let the fungus grow.


    The worst thing that could happen would be windy or hot days without moisture that make the subsoil and surface moisture disappear.

    Good luck to all and remember someone has to be the first one to find a few. Some guy at work has a friend that supposedly found 6 over the last couple days, but didn't take any pictures to prove it blah, blah blah.... I'll go find my own and know that they're out.

    The nice thing is with all the rain we've had this spring and now the heat eventually falling into place while we still have moisture conditions seem right that we could have a really good season in store for us in NE Iowa.

    6. Whatever you do, use a breathable mesh bag so the spores can drop as you walk rather than using a plastic grocery store type bag. Once they have sprouted they still need to get fertilized by the blowing spores above ground so they’ll continue on in the future. I’ll call this the 6th condition for perpetuation in the future!

    Good luck to all and happy hunting!

    ShroomBoomblio
     
  2. fun gus

    fun gus Morel Enthusiast

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    Great info. I've Been hunting for 50 years- since I was 2. Grandpa said morels grow from first bloom of lilac to last living bloom of lilac. It's BenN 50 years and it's true. Pros tell me whatever it's 4 inch soil temp of 53 for 3 days. Both are right lilac first bloom at 53 for 3 days. Lilacs new high sunny ground lilacs are full bloom lower ground lilacs dying north slopes. That is a generalization but solid pattern. In mid season wet years I go out and once picked 20 pounds with 2 inches of snow!
    I'm getting them in central iowa but the 5 things have not been in balance so low numbers. Hopefully the rain brings us all a great mess of morels today
     

  3. mikekrebill

    mikekrebill Morel Enthusiast

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    ShroomBloomblio: thanks for sharing your thoughts and assumptions. There are a couple mistaken assumptions that ought to be clarified. First, on the matter of temperature, I highly recommend purchasing an inexpensive instant-read, stainless steel digital thermometer that can be also used when grilling. Use it to check soil temperatures at a 4" depth. Begin looking for morels when daytime air temps. reach the 60s, nighttime temperatures are in the 50s, & the soil temp. is 53º. Here in Iowa, we are fortunate that Iowa State does this for every county in the state, so you can access this link: http://mesonet.agron.iastate.edu/data/soilt_day1.png, which is updated whenever you log onto it. The second assumption is on the nature of morels. They are not decomposers or parasites like many mushrooms. They are symbionts, meaning that the hyphae of their mycelial strands hooks up with the root hairs of trees (in most cases) for a mutually beneficial relationship. They provide nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, which they extract from the soil, and increase the water supply to the tree. In exchange, the tree provides stored food energy in the form of carbohydrates (sugars) made in the leaves. As a consequence, the tree grows better, and so does the fungal mycelium. Morels are known to form a symbiotic relationship with 22 species of trees. Here in the Midwest, most of us have probably found them around elms, sometimes around ash trees, and often in old apple orchards. They also have the same relationship with oaks, silver maple, sycamore, cottonwoods, black locust and more. In the SE US, tulip poplar is a dominant tree and the primary symbiont for morels.
     
  4. mikekrebill

    mikekrebill Morel Enthusiast

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    To continue, one might ask why morels are far and away more common around recently dead and dying elm trees than they are around healthy elms, or oaks, or other symbionts. I have a theory that attempts to explain that very thing. It is called the Loss of the Symbiotic Relationship Theory. As the elm dies, so does its root hairs. They no longer provide plant sugars to the hyphae of the morel mycelium. Consequently, the mycelial body senses the loss of the symbiotic relationship as the tree dies. In survival mode, the mycelium sends up a flush of the spore-bearing structures we call morels. Rain, wind, morel hunters, and insects carry the spores out to new locations where they can begin to grow and seek new symbiotic relationships. This happens as the tree is dying. After it has been dead for two years or more, it is very unlikely that morels will still be found at that site. One visual aid that helps us know whether to spend our time looking around a dead elm is to look at the bark. If most of the bark remains on the tree, it is a recently dead elm, and it is worthwhile to look around it. If most of the bark has fallen off, the tree has likely been dead two or more years and it is a waste of time to look there because morels have already abandoned the site. In Michigan, the decline of ash vigor as ash trees are infected by Emerald Ash Borers has led to a similar pronounced fruiting. However, ash trees seem to be dying off faster than elms. One can always hope that other symbiotic trees will become good spots to find morels. Perhaps sugar maple or aspen, for instance. Apple trees are slower to decline than elms or ash, and that is likely the reason why old apple orchards seem to be good places over a long period of time to seek morels.
     
  5. swi shroomer

    swi shroomer Morel Connoisseur

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    Interesting thread. Thanks for a good read. The symbiosis stuff is fascinating.
     
  6. shroom god

    shroom god Morel Connoisseur

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    This cluster of 9 found Thursday met the 5 conditions--and possibly more:

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 1, 2017
  7. kb

    kb Morel Connoisseur

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    Mike, I am surprisd on the locust tree. Never seen any around those in my life. On the other hand I don't really hunt them. I think you can add young willow, and red cedar to the midwest list too based on my experience. Great info. guys. Man I sure wish I could figure them out, almost 50 years of hunting them and still learning new tricks. How about the effects of drought on morels flushing? Saw more morels than I have ever seen in my life in spots in Kansas that had been in severe drought for 2 years, last year the rain and good temps. produced numbers that were incredible. I saw one 200 acre section of cedar churn out over 300 lbs of morels. Funny thing was the cottonwoods did the same thing on many lakes and rivers. Me and other hunters i know who have picked thousands of pounds over the years were dumbfounded but plenty happy to pick them.
     
  8. catfishjohn

    catfishjohn Morel Enthusiast

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    I've only been hunting them for twenty three years kb, but you're right about those Ks (and west central Mo) flushes the past couple years. I thought last year was the best I'd ever seen...until this year rolled around. Just wow. Awesome info guys.
     
  9. swi shroomer

    swi shroomer Morel Connoisseur

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    KB, that's amazing the poundage you found in the cedars. Too cool. Good stuff on the flood effect. I am not good at tree identification (except for dead elms!) but I've found a few morels now and again under the thorny honey locust. I always worry I'm going to get a thorn through the eyeball when I look around them so I try to be extra cautious then: http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:HoneyLocustThorn.JPG
     
  10. kb

    kb Morel Connoisseur

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    Catfish, are you saying I missed a big flush in Kan. this spring? Man, we were trying real hard to find the magic spots, they were not as widespread as last I guess. We knew the buyers were getting them somewhere, just could not find the spot. Most I picked in one spot was only 10 lbs. SW- I thought I had died and gone back to the giant elm die offs of the 60-70 period last year, only it was diff. trees and a lot stranger. I am sure I will never see that again in my life, but who knows. By the way I did not pick all of that 300. . I would say my contribution was around 60-70 lbs. It was my nieces first real all day hunt, she is ruined for life. The day before I got there a friend and his wife and kid picked 150. Another friend picked at least a 100. They were everywhere you looked. Best of all they were some of the most perfect, creamy, medium to large tight gilled morels I have ever picked. Lots of shade. Same spot this year, NADA. No rain. Last year out of those areas literally thousands of pounds. I scrounged 2.5 pounds out of N C. Mo and S.C Iowa today. The schroom god is messing with me this year for having it to easy last. I kept zigging when I should have zagged as I like to say. The weather was great. I saw Pheasant, quail, turkey, deer, and a great big owl. Talked to 2 turkey hunters from Pennsylvania in Worth county, Nice guys, sent them down to the family farm so they could hunt some private ground, told them to call if they saw any morels. Hope they get a turkey and don't get lost. The season progresses north as always. N. Mo still has many good morels, I have yet to leave many behind. Just need to find more. SW, do you hunt any of the hills north of MO. Valley? My Snowball bush in my yard says its time to go pick those, if any are there. Very reliable indicator. Don't know why, Just noticed I have pictures going back over a decade of boxes of iowa morels in front of the snowball. You guys have any other scientific ideas on morel? I would love to figure out the silver maple flushing trigger. Any thoughts anyone? To long of a post for most topics
     
  11. kb

    kb Morel Connoisseur

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    shroom god, what kind of tree were those on? Great find, Clusters are the coolest. Some conditions in the midwest tend to produce more clusters. Cut cotton wood is real good on the cluster effect. I found one once with 21 in it .Man I hate to think of morel season ever ending, you never know what you might find or see. Great thread.
     
  12. shroom god

    shroom god Morel Connoisseur

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    kb, that cluster was about 5 feet down from the base of a small (10-inch diameter) elm, on an east-facing slope. It was part of a bunch of 35 around that tree. I haven't found a cluster like that for a long time.

    I've noticed clumps tend to be associated with mossy areas, and that was the case with this one.

    Went out today with my daughter and got 500 or so. I'm cashed.

     
  13. swi shroomer

    swi shroomer Morel Connoisseur

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    KB, I have a friend who lives just north of Mo. Valley. He's been so busy at work he hasn't had much time to check places in the hills around there. I used to hunt in the Loess Hills around Glenwood but the steepness of the slopes kind of discouraged me away from those quite awhile back. I wish I had more info for you. I'll see what my friend has to say about Mo. Valley, and I'll ask around about how it's going here in Council Bluffs where I live. Love your morel stories. Thanks for the great reports.
     
  14. catfishjohn

    catfishjohn Morel Enthusiast

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    Kb, my pickin partners touched 200 lbs. this year in eastern Kansas. Last year, the same spots coughed up just shy of 150. There was nothing unique about the patterns in the spots, same as every year I've ever been, just WAY more than usual. I think the drought prolly has a lot to do with it. If it's true that morels can sense stressed hosts and flush to bring more water to the root hairs--as Mike Krebel suggested--then it stands to reason. The rains were spotty, as you know, but the places that were blessed with rain were paved with morels. It made me ache to be in Iowa on the outside looking in, but couldn't leave the wife and baby to join the action. Going out every day next week. Rains and cool temps are coming. Iowa will be good this year, as Shroom Gods photos are provin.
     
  15. kb

    kb Morel Connoisseur

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    catfish, dang I hated missing that. I think that flood drought stuff makes a huge difference. on the Mo. the years after that last flood were killer.
     
  16. swi shroomer

    swi shroomer Morel Connoisseur

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    kb, sounds like it is rocking and rolling in the Mo. Valley area. Have it on good authority someone found close to 30 pounds on the Missouri River bottoms around there. And I know they are finding yellows and blondes in the hills. Would love to hunt with you if you ever make it up this way.
     
  17. kb

    kb Morel Connoisseur

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    thnks SW. It will be later this week or the weekend. Going to gather some more intel., not that i don't trust yours, just so few days and so many possible directions to head. If I do come up 29 I'll let you know. I have not been a morel magnet this year, yet, but the season may just be getting going up there. It's been a weird slow year. I picked my first in ST. Joe on April 17th and was still picking in Mo. Sunday.
     
  18. swi shroomer

    swi shroomer Morel Connoisseur

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    Sounds good, kb. I couldn't get away until Saturday or Sunday. Do let me know if you head this way and maybe we can catch some nice flushes.
     
  19. mshrmfn

    mshrmfn Morel Enthusiast

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    does anyone have any experience with the ants in the woods that form those large mounds? Do these ants mess with the mycelium and prevent morel growth?
     
  20. shroomhawk

    shroomhawk Morel Enthusiast

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    Mike - that's an interesting theory and explains a lot, but it does not explain my experience. I have stumbled upon huge finds around fallen elms that lie far from their original stump. These have been some of my best finds. I have also read about people cutting elms and bringing them to another site where they produce morels. There has to be some nutrient contained in the bark or between the bark and the trunk that is responsible for this. In Iowa I have never found a quantity of mushrooms around any dying or dead tree other than but elms.