The Morel Mushroom Season
Are they up yet?
When to begin looking
Many Michigan Morel Hunters will begin looking for signs of morels as early as the month of March. Normally March is a cool month here in Michigan and is usually when the morel itch begins to chime in. I beleive that the weather in March kind of sets the pace of the morel season and the overall affect on the morels. You see March is when the ground is beginning to thaw from the long cold winter. We don't want the temperature climbing too high too fast . A slow steady warm-up is ideal. Then as April takes over, you would want to see weather starting to get warmer during the daytime hours like in the low to mid 60's up to around 70 degrees with plenty of warm rain and mild temperatures during the night time hours idealy in the 50's. With a continuous flow of weather like this you can bet on a nice flush of morels. But hey! wake up! This is Michigan we are talking about. Since when does the weather ever cooperate like this?
In Southern Michigan areas the start of the Morel season will normally begin to show its first signs of morels in Early to mid April depending on the weather but it seems that every year I can always recall a few small finds being reported as early as March. The black and brown morels (Morchella angusticeps, Morchella elata, Morchella conica) will kick off the season. Along with these you may run across the half free morel Morchella semilibera.) These are the first true morels to fruit. These will usually fruit through out most of the month of April and into May. A word of caution, during the early season be on the look out for the so-called false morel (verpa bohemica) this morel resembles the half free. See my page on Morels for a more descriptive outline of the Verpa and half free morel. Also, The beefsteak morel (Gyromitra esculenta) is also an early morel and should not be eaten see my morel page for more information on the beefsteak morel.
Soil conditions and soil temperatures
The soil temperatures can be a helpful sign to determine when morels may be ready to fruit. There have been many studies on the ideal ground temps and many people will have their own theories. What I have concluded is soil temps ranging from 47-55 degrees for morels to begin their growth cycle. (Althogh it seems like the early black morels prefer the cooler temperatures) but can't really prove this theory. Typically you would want to check the soil temperature at a depth of 4 inches in bare soil. If you take a meat thermometer or soil thermometer and stick it in the ground at a depth of 4 inches for at least 5 minutes, you can get a pretty accurate reading. I have also heard of people doing their own studies and claim they have found morels with a soil temp of 40-45 degrees.In cases like this, the morels would probably be far and between. I will be honest when I say "Don't totally rely on soil temperatures to determine when it is time. The best way to tell is actually taking a walk in the woods and look for the signs. There are a couple web sites that actually record soil temperature throughout the year. This is a very good source of information and one of my favorites. A place where you can track soil temperatures daily or hourly. I visit this site as soon as I see signs of spring.Click here for soil temps.
So basically the information above, is a representation of a Typical Michigan Morel Season but not written in stone, since ther are so many variables that will affect how the Morel Season will react.
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