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The mushroom season this spring began much earlier than most, and at first it seemed to be much shorter, with less mushrooms seen.
However, for the whole season, it was the best spring for morels and a fairly good one for Spring Kings.
We had a very big fire in the area last year, so we were mainly the only ones at our morel spots because everyone else seemed to be at the fire zone.
The short rainfalls we had sure made a nice difference.
Findings, April 13 - July 7 (top)
Saturday, April 13: It
had been much too cold this year to hunt for mushrooms, but on Saturday, we
got a call from our friend Denise DeRose, telling us that she had found a
few morels on private property near Lake Almanor and wanted to know if we
could go out and “play”.
I said "Yes", and because she also said she did not see any at our regular spots, I suggested we meet and go to the remains of last year's Chips Fire near Canyon Dam.
We walked and talked, but between the three of us, we did not see any mushrooms at all. On the way home, we decided to check a few of the spots for ourselves and started seeing some mushrooms. Finally, Cecelia spotted a very small morel, so we marked it for checking later.
In another area, we saw some Bird's Next fungi, remains of some snow bank mushrooms, and a few of what appeared to be Melanolueca.
It's a start.
Thursday, April 18: Today I went out by myself to recheck that one tiny morel.
It had not grown very much, but it now had a smaller version right next to it. So I checked a few more spots, and in the process, I found a morel about 1 1/2” tall, and at another spot, about a dozen morels even tinier than the one we found on Saturday.
In one of the spots, I found one small Gyromitra montana, about the size of a walnut, and in another spot, a clump of small Sarcosphaera crassa.
So, it doesn’t look quite as bleak as I had predicted, and the weather is supposed to be getting warmer the rest of the week.
Tuesday April 22: We went out late this afternoon to recheck a few our special spots, picked what we found in spite of the small size, and even found a few new patches. But they are all pretty small and far between. I would not know where to hunt now, and we are not prone to wandering yet, so we will probably wait at least week before we go out again by ourselves.
We only saw a few very tiny orange cup fungus today.
Tonight we had barbequed chicken with cream of morel gravy. Yum!
Friday, May 10: Yesterday we went to some of our favorite spots at 4500 ft., including one we had not visited for a long time, and we brought home 4 pounds of morels. We even picked three red-capper butter boletes, the Boletus regius.
Most of the morels were found in the spot we had not visited for years.
A few days ago, we went up to 5100 ft. and brought home 4 pounds.
The day before that, we had picked 6.8 pounds at mostly the same spots.
We will probably not be going out for a few days, because we have too many other things to finish first.
This has been the best year so far, and we will probably need to stay higher, now that it is sunny and warm again.
But I think we have enough to last us until the next trek.
Sunday, May 12: Today we picked 3 pounds of morels at 5100 ft. today, after picking 1 pound at 4500 ft. while scouting for Butter Boletes.
Some at both spots were still fresh, and some were starting to get pretty dry, but all went into the dryer anyway.
Found one medium-sized spring king also, which means they should already be out. We did not see any butter boletes there today.
I was just told today by a fellow mushroomer that he found some small morels in the Chips fire.
Monday, May 13: Today we found our first spring king bolete, the Boletus rex-veris, at about a 5100 ft. elevation and 10 ft. from our parked car.
I expect there are more out at the lower elevations. I may check later today.
This spring brought an early flush of morels, and the huge fire we had near here last year brought in fire morels and commercial pickers, as well as local mushroomers, which probably helped to minimize the competition at our favorite local spots.
We are also seeing "red" morels and have been told not to eat them.
The batch of picked morels today weighed in at 4 pounds.
We feel that this has been our best year for picking morels.
Lately we have been finding them under lids or large mounds, which helps to keep the fresh longer as well as making them more difficult to spot. The large amount of tree pollen didn’t help either.
We have also found a few Boletus regius, one of the more popular butter boletes, and a few of our favorites, the amber–staining Agaricus, the Agaricus albolutecens.
Wednesday, May 15: Today, while foraging with our friends Bock Chan and Wayne Camaran, we collected a little over 2 pounds of morels at 5100 ft., plus we found 3 small king boletes.
Bock found a spring king that was almost 8 inches in diameter, and it still had the white pore tubes.
As long as we concentrated on areas what would be in the shade around noon and in skid trails or depressions, we all did quite well.
The boletes were actually pretty moist when I cut them out of the ground.
Because the season was early, and we have had some days of actual moisture, I think the season will continue.
And the butter boletes should be out in larger numbers soon, as they usually do well even after a dry spell, as do the kings.
We stopped to talk to the mushroom buyer, Mike, in Chester, and while we were there, we saw lots of morels arriving.
I got a report from a person a few days ago, who said he found some nice morels in the Chips fire area, and that a there were lots of fresh tiny ones scattered around. Good news.
Saturday, May 18: Today we went back to an area at 5100 ft. where we had taken our two friends on Wednesday.
The biggest grouping of morels was right in a patch of what I call Pine Manzanita. Almost all were found in shady skid trails or draws.
A unidentified large Pluteus was found in another area close by.
Today we did even a little better, bringing home over 3 pounds of morels and 3 king boletes, total weight of all about 5.2 pounds.
This time, many of the morels were not very fresh, but most were very large, including one of the king boletes.
There still seems to be lots of the fresh morel indicators around the area, the Pink Crown, but the general appearance of the morels was that the recent rain made many a bit soggy.
I was told this morning by a friend, that at the Chips Fire yesterday, close to Butt Reservoir he picked almost 20 pounds of morels in a fairly short time, and that there seemed to be lots of babies scattered around.
He guessed that the fire morel season should continue for another couple of weeks at that spot.
Tuesday, May 25: Things are getting a bit better, morel-wise. Today we stopped at one special spot on the way home (4400 ft.) and picked 8 morels, from small to medium-sized.
We had already checked the same spot about a week ago, so we were pleasantly surprised to find them, and most were very close to the car.
I think I am finally getting the morel fever!
Time to get serious!
Saturday, May 27: Late Saturday we decided to go a little higher to see if we could find any morels.
At around 5100 ft., we only found a few small ones, plus some small orange cup fungi and some small Sarcosphaera, both being good morel indicators, and decided to go home after walking for about an hour and a half.
On the way home, we saw a mushroom buyer (for the Chips Fire) and stopped to see how he was doing.
He said that it was very slow, but and that he expected the amounts to increase very soon.
He told us his name was Guitar Mike and that he himself had picked 3 pounds that morning, between 4500 - 5000 ft..
He said one picker left for the day and another broke down, so the competition would much less if I was looking for fire morels.
I told him I usually only picked naturals or disturbed area morels because of my inability to know where to begin in a large fire area.
So we stopped briefly at one of our special spots that we had not checked yet, and in less than an hour, we picked over a pound of small to medium-sized morels.
I guess now it is time to get serious!
Note: In the days following, We returned several times and collected LOTS of morels, many of them being under hinged mounds.
Monday, May 30: Today we decided to recheck a few of our special spots around 5100 ft.
The first spot was what we call “boletus alley”, and there found 4 good-sized king boletes (Boletus rex-veris).
As we continued to wander around the area, we found a few more, some in clumps.
Next, we checked a spot where we usually find lots of the Sierra Sculptured Puffball (Calvatia sculpta), but they were all only a bit larger than golf balls. They usually are picked in July, but the entire season has been a bit early this year.
Then we checked another spot close by, hoping to find some late morels or early Butter Boletes (B. regius).
As we walked along the road, we actually spotted a few fairly and large fresh morels. I then looked down the side of the road and spotted a few even larger and fresher ones. On the way back up to the road, I found an even larger one, which had been hidden below a small fir tree.
I think we only found 12 morels total.
We continued to look for morels and boletes, finding a few of each (no butter boletes) and seeing lots of the Pink Crowns, or Sarcosphaera coronaria, which are usually good indicators of morels, until we decided to turn back. Along the way we saw two pink-spored deer mushrooms (Pluteus cervinus) and a few of the Cortinarius with the persistent veils (C. magnivalatus),
Just before we got to the car, we spotted several medium-sized puffballs, Calbovista subsculpta, and I gathered a few for a neighbor.
It was another fun day.
Later, as I sliced the larger boletes for the drier, I noticed that only a few had any traces of infestation.
Thursday, June 6: Today we had decided to go towards Yuba Pass to have lunch at the Packers Lake Lodge and then go look for edible mushrooms on Yuba Pass.
Unfortunately they had stopped serving lunches, so we went to the Bassets Store.
On the way, I looked at the date and remembered that the Spring Fungi Class might still be in session.
When we got to the restaurant, I noticed Michael Wood sitting with friends at a booth in the back, so I new the class was in session and that pickings would be pretty slim at best. We also noticed Douglas Smith arriving.
We had a nice chat with Mike and he said that this was the last day for the class. He also said that there were very few King Boletes seen, but that they did fairly well for finding morels.
We checked a few of the places that Mike said were pretty picked over by the class, but we were still able to find a few morels and a nice batch of Agaricus albolutecens.
On the way back, I visited the class field campus, and I was able to have a chat with Fred Stevens. He told us a place for us to check on the way home, but we were too late.
The spring fungi season looks like it began and finished pretty early this year.
Friday, June 7: Late on Friday, we met up with Loraine and Bob Berry to check a few of our spots at 5100 ft.
It was very dry, but we did manage to find a few spring kings and butter boletes. The butter boletes we picked included one large Boletus regius and a few small Boletus abieticola.
There still were lots of fresh Sarcosphaera coronaria scattered about, but we found only one, very dry morel.
We also rechecked our Calvatia sculpta spot, and the golf-ball sized ones had grown to
almost softball size.
In regard to a question regarding expected morel habitat, "Approximately at what elevation?", Alan responded: