"Bayou Bill" Scifres
Dedicated to the conservation and enjoyment of Indiana's natural resources
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What Happened To The Morels?
Copyright © 2007 by Bill Scifres

Usually, at this time of year (Mother’s Day), we can go to our favorite mushroom woods and fill our sacks with morels . . . What happened?

It’s a question we have been hearing a lot in the last week or so. “What happened to the morels this year?”

I am not one to offer that this is an answerable question by anyone--especially me. But I will say that my column item several weeks ago--when it was occurring--was somewhere close to an answer, even if it is not on the button.

Back in April, you will recall, we had an unusually warm spell of about a week and plenty of rain to go with it. It created ideal conditions for spring morels. There were some reports of mushroom finds at that time--mostly little blacks--especially in central and southern sectors of the state. Some wildflowers bloomed (not lilac, to my knowledge). But the wildflowers of early species were rather sparse, the woods were not ablaze with blooms as usual. But it still appeared that we were standing on the threshold of a pretty decent morel season. 

Being rather easy to convince that what I wanted to occur was becoming reality as the sun moved northward, I dutifully reported it for the army of morellers.

But things (especially the weather) changed. Instead of wildflowers turning the woods into its usual riot of color, the wildflowers that bloomed faded into nothingness. The other wildflowers didn’t bloom, and the woodlands turned into the biggest bunch of blah I have ever witnessed. There are a lot of weeds in the woods now, but I have a sneaky suspicion that our late cold snap also did its work on the taller flowers that should be in bloom now, but aren’t. The full story on that will show up later as the fruits and nuts of trees and shrubs mature. Wild berries also may be affected adversely, but I am noticing a modest crop of wild black raspberries coming on the canes now. Wild strawberries have lost so much fallow fielding (places to develop) that it is difficult to mention them.

It is a bit early to tell how the various hardwood trees fared during the cold snap, but they may have lucked out in developing blooms more slowly (later) than did many of the wildflowers. We will undoubtedly be observing this facet and getting the opinions of others later in the year. We also will have a short wait to see how the dewberries and blackberries are going to do. Their bloom will tell us soon. I have noticed the Indian strawberry (poisonous, folks say) in bloom recently, and some fruiting.

So what is going to happen with the morels now? My last excursion in Central Indiana was so dismal that I hate to return. But I will return--it is in my blood. And we may find some “big yallers,” or possibly the big woods morels. But it seems one’s best advice is: Go north, young man, maybe into Michigan, where spring breaks more slowly. 

PORTABLE BUCKET--Several readers of this column have asked for an “instant replay” on fashioning a shirt-pocket berry-pickin’ pail from a half-gallon milk or citrus juice container. Hard paper containers work best. These instructions will be found on the “wild recipes” section of  this website (http://bayoubill.com).

Start by cutting off the angled top of the container. From there the procedure can be patterned as the folding of a paper grocery sack. It is easy. After the folds are made, a bail of strong cord may be attached to opposite sides of the opening. Then the sides of the pail are wrapped around the bottom for storage in a shirt pocket.

If you have trouble with the procedure, practice it with a grocery sack. Learn how to make the folds and crease them.

The pail will be filled with quart plastic bags, removable (sealed with twistem) when filled. Don’t ask me why a quart bag fills a half-gallon pail. Thus, several bags can be filled with berries. 

Shirt-Pocket Pail ready for

(Click on image for enlarged view.)


All columns, essays, and photos are copyrighted by Bill Scifres and may not be reproduced in any form without prior permission from the author.  For reproduction permission and media usage fees, contact: Bill Scifres, 6420 East 116th Street, Fishers, IN 46038, E-mail: billscifres@aol.com

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