A season that began early has produced a bumper crop of a favorite Iowa delicacy. The D-N-R’s Lowell Washburn says mushroom hunters who usually keep their hunting spots secret have plenty to share this spring.
Generally, he says, there isn’t a more tight-lipped bunch than the morel mushroom hunters. Washburn says, “They’re even worse than trout fishermen.” But this year there aren’t so many secrets because he says everybody, everywhere he goes, is finding all the mushrooms they want to eat. They’re giving them away, and he says they’ll tell you anything.
“It’s a completely different ballgame this year.” Early in the spring it was dry and warm and Washburn says it looked to him like the season was going to be a bust for mushroom hunters. What really turned things around was a series of late-spring rainfalls, and he says in the recent cool weather the mushrooms began popping up all over the state. He says this may be the best mushroom season in years.
As a photographer for the D-N-R publication ‘Iowa Outdoors,” Washburns travels the state and talks with lots of people. All the way from Muscatine to Winnebago County, they ‘re finding them. He tells of stopping at the Grand Cafe in Lake Mills and hearing the folks who always sit around and talk about everything from fishing to ducks “all talking mushrooms right now. They’re finding mushrooms in north-central Iowa like they are along the Mississippi River. I mean, it’s just phenomenal.” He says he’s talked with folks who found morels at Spirit Lake, where they’re not supposed to grow.
Washburn says you can find them at farmers markets this year in a lot of towns.
“This glut of mushrooms this year has really crashed the mushroom market,” Washburn declares. Normally as high as 36-dollars at the outdoor markets, this year they’re going for as little as ten dollars a pound. There’s still some time to find your own too, as he says the growing season’s not quite over yet.