Over the last 25 years, we've found that predicting a morel crop is impossible. Some years we collect many dozens, and other years there are none.
As we scoured the ground beneath dead elm and apple trees on April 25, I followed Linda's lead. "Found one!" she yelled. "Two!" "Three! "Four" "It's going to be a good year," she said, beaming.
In the next hour we visited a half dozen spots where we've found morels in the past. Each was fruitful, and Linda nearly filled her mesh morel bag. Linda was in morel heaven, a state I call "morel-apalooza."
It is only fitting that Linda is a far better morel hunter than I. Her eyes are sharper, and I think she forms a search image for the fleshy yellowish mushrooms that resemble convoluted brain tissue. When our daughters were little girls, they found even more than Linda. I think it was because their eyes were closer to the ground.
I've always wondered how fast morels grow. They seem to pop up every night, but that seems unlikely. So when Linda found two small patches of inch-high morels, I suggested we watch them for a few days to see how fast they grow. Linda wanted to pick them, so she faced a real "morel" dilemma.
Ultimately, Linda agreed that this little experiment was a good idea. When we returned 24 hours later, each morel had grown about an inch. The next day they had grown another inch. Satisfied that morels grow rapidly, but over several days, we picked the experimental mushrooms and enjoyed a morel omelet the next morning.
By the end of April, Linda had collected 75 morels -- our best harvest ever, and I expect there will be a least a few more.
Send questions and comments to Dr. Scott Shalaway, 2222 Fish Ridge Road, Cameron, West Virginia 26033 or by email at sshala...@aol.com