Tag: morel

A tribute: 2016 Morel Mushroom Season

A tribute: 2016 Morel Mushroom Season

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I am sad to say that the Rogue Valley’s 2016 morel mushroom season is wrapping up. I do believe that areas above 5000 ft in elevation may continue to see blooms if the wet weather continues. I will continue to venture these areas. Morel mushroom season gives way to salmon season, and I am quite excited about that! Thank you for all the feed back and support this year. The morel mushroom hunters of Southern Oregon – cheers!

Mary Jane Feetham

Morels at 4467 Ft

I am following the morels as they continue to pop in higher elevations. Currently, I am having very good luck off of Highway 140, in Jackson County, Oregon.

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Freshly popped clusters of 2″ – 3″  morels

As the first flushes of morels at this elevation begin to age out, the second flush is just popping up. A lot of solid, fresh naturals growing to good size.

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Fresh morels that are firm, cream colored stocks

 

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Aged morels that are squishy and stocks beginning to turn yellow

I usually leave the aged morels to do their thing, hoping to preserve the quality of these morel picking spots.

Mary Jane Feetham

Morels in the Buffer Zones

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This time of year, every day is a new opportunity for morel hunters. I wish I could get out more than I do. I watch activity all year round, looking for new spots and expanding on the areas that I know are faithful. I dubbed those locations “relative spots”. I start getting calls in the Spring time from people close to me who know I am always on the hunt, anxious to get out themselves. Often, this will be there only hunt, so I take them to those spots I know will produce.

I had seen the logging operation the year before and was set on following up on this spot. A lot of times I have that idea and never make it back because life gets in the way sometimes. However, I hit it perfect with this one. Large slash piles that stood the year before were nothing but a circular bare spot on the forest floor with charred log butts spread about.

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If you had not seen the logging operation in action, there was not much to give the site away apart from the fact that the logging roads had obviously been recently maintained. There are buffer zones running alongside the road where a strip of land had not been processed by the machinery. In this case it is because there was a creek on the road side and the logging operation had to set aside this portion so as not to damage the water source. Beyond this buffer zone strip, out of view of the road, was the leftover land and pounds of morels.

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This is always very interesting to me. It is dramatic to see side by side the forest before and after a logging operation comes through. As I am walking through the slash piles with my nose on the ground, scanning for mushrooms, I had an overall change of environment. I do not know how to explain it, but in a few steps I crossed the threshold of the buffer zone, from processed to pristine. The trees were large and numerous with high canopies that created a quiet darkness and the ground opened up, from tons of underbrush to open space. The diversity of plant types in a few steps went from mainly knee high shrubs to a variety of plants and wild flowers and marker mushrooms. I started finding naturals as a followed the buffer zone into a larger untouched area off of the road.

I am not a master in ecology, but I understand differences in environment in relation to morel hunting. In the logging zones, the morels are numerous and come in a few flushes and are never enormous in size. In less traumatized zones, morels are fewer and farther in between, but are much larger in size and the season is extended in these areas. I have thought that possibly the morel spores are easy spread into the mycelium in areas of soil disruption, which would make sense why logging operations and burns get the poundage not seen in more natural settings.

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I get a thrill out of finding them either way. As the morels start to climb in elevation around the Rogue Valley, the excitement increases for me. I like to get out of the logging areas and the burns and as morels climb the mountains, the naturals are more abundant and easier to find.

Mary Jane Feetham

Lake of the Woods

About 45 minutes from down town Medford, is a wonderland of family adventure opportunities. It is a great place to get away for the day!

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A while back, I was given an opportunity to live on Lake of the Woods for a year. It was then that I realized how many adventures were available year round at our high mountain lakes. I spent the summer sun bathing and swimming. Late summer was time for huckleberry picking. The fall brought on oyster mushrooms and shaggy mane mushrooms and great sunsets. I snowshoed, x-country skied, and sledded the winter away. Spring, like now, is when everything opens back up and gives way to hiking, biking, and some pretty good Rainbow trout fishing as well.

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I take my children hiking on the trails located right off of the resort. They are easy, level, well-marked paths. Our family favorite is the trail between Lake of the Woods and Fish Lake, about 7 miles. It is an epic adventure that takes you through the evidence of volcanic activity from the Mt Mazama eruption, and travels among old growth pines and firs. Excellent food and lake time awaits you either way you go. Both of the lakes boast good food and swimming access at the Resort.

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There are several ways to enjoy Lake of the Woods for free as well. Unless otherwise marked, parking directly off of the road on Forest Service land, not resort property, is perfectly legal. The Forest Service governs the land the lake sits on, from Dead Indian Memorial Hwy to 140 to Brown Mountain Rd. The Resort is well marked and has fee parking within their facility property. The trails can be located out of Rainbow Bay, the Lodge area, and Aspen Point.

 

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Before the summer rush hits, it is a beautiful place to come walk in the woods. Lake of the Woods resort opened May 1st this year, and is now open daily. There is still a few packs of snow here and there, but the winter seems to have melted away, and the roads are in great condition.

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Lake of the Woods is an amazing place to take the children to play in the woods and water.

Mary Jane Feetham

 

 

Morel Craze

Just an hour drive from Medford’s core lies a network of old logging roads plush with wild flowers and . . . morels. Head towards Prospect on Butte Falls-Prospect Hwy and take any number of the marked side roads for success!

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Bring a map!

I like to hone in on young logging sites. The disruption of the soil combined with the spores being tracked around by heavy equipment leads to high yields in these areas. However, morels still come up in sites that are years older. Unless marked, I attempt to gauge the age of a logging site by the height of the planted trees. They are planted as seedlings and  grow 2-4″ a year.

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The soil looks dry and unproductive from afar, but I was surprised when I stuck my finger into the dirt how moist it was right underneath the surface. Since this was an older logging I site, I was not expecting much but took a look around anyways.

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Among the grass blades and dried plant debris were morels. The more I looked around, the more I found. It was intriguing how hidden these morels were. The children had a good time digging through the grass!

It never seizes to amaze me how elusive yet abundant morel mushrooms are here in Southern Oregon. It is an extension of Easter for my family. The hunt continues . . .

Mary Jane Feetham

Hunting Morels

Hunting Morels

If I had a dollar for every theory on how or why morel mushrooms grow when and where, I would be a multi-millionaire. What I know about morel mushroom hunting has been gained from experience looking for them in and around the Rogue Valley. I have researched and read a lot about finding edible fungi, but the most useful information I have gathered by walking through the woods.

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Looking in burns is a popular and productive route, both in prescribed burns and large forest fire burns. I generally stick to burns that are one to three years old and hunt them a few weeks prior to when that elevation naturally blooms with morels.

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The yellow cup fungi is a great indicator that the soil conditions are right for morels

When deciding on an elevation for the day’s adventure, I look at the elevation the snow is currently at and start  500 – 1000 ft in elevation below that. It always depends on the amount of rain we got that year and what the temperatures have been like in the past few weeks. If overnight temperatures have stayed above 45 degrees for three consecutive nights, it is a good sign the soil may be ready to produce.

An excellent way to find local burns and information on them is to check out the  Northwest Large Fire Map. Use this tool to find a burn near you and exactly how to access it. The topographic layer will give you detailed information on elevation, drainage, and distance from nearby roads. Northwest Large Fire Map

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There are several excellent choices for burn hunting this year within a two hour drive of the Rogue Valley. It is an excellent time to pack up the kids, or the dogs, or both and head out on an adventure!

Mary Jane Feetham