2020 Morel Mushroom Season Indiana
Where do I find them? When do they emerge? What is the best time of year?
With temperatures already hitting the mid 50’s at the beginning of March, the signs of Spring are here. Sand hill crane migration is in full swing with flock of cranes flying overhead making their distinct call, geese move north and daffodils have emerged, showing themselves across Indiana.
Here in West Central Indiana (Warren County, Tippecanoe County, Clinton, Fountain County area) we generally start seeing morel mushroom emerge from the wooded ground in mid to late April. Here are a few tell-tale signs that those delicious mushrooms are soon to arrive.
- Turkeys Gobble – spring Turkey season in Indiana is also in April, generally considered the start of mushroom season in Indiana as well. Mushroom hunters in Southern Indiana will find their fair share first and as temperatures warm in Northern Indiana, we’re soon to follow.
- Rain Showers – a combination of wet & warm soil are the ideal conditions for spring mushrooms to emerge and grow.
- Temperature / Soil Moisture – many mycologists and mushroom hunters alike generally agree that soil temperatures around 50 to 55 degrees are necessary for gray, black and yellow sponge mushrooms to emerge.
- Pre-season Scouting – know your trees such as Elm, Ash and Sycamore. If you can identify these trees, chances are that you’ll find these Indiana mushrooms.
- Compass – get your bearings and seek out southern facing slopes, these areas will warm up sooner than North facing slopes and you can increase your chances of finding the elusive morel mushroom
PRO TIP: When you spot your first mushroom, pause. Yes, stop moving. Typically there are more than just that single mushroom in the area and by pausing, you’ll most likely start to see more mushrooms. It’s a bummer of feeling to have just stepped on these beautiful specimens.
How do I pick morel sponge mushrooms?
Great question! While there are many methods and myths surrounding morel and sponge mushrooms, it’s best practice to pinch the mushroom off at ground level – and do no uproot mushrooms. The mushroom organism is considered a rhizome and grows through a connected network underground near tree roots (some say the mushroom and tree are symbiotic in nature). It’s also common practice to carry a bag / sack that is made of mesh material (don’t use a plastic bag). This is said to allow the mushrooms to drop more rhizomes on the ground – it also keeps them from getting too dry or possibly moldy if you spend a full day in the woods.
What types of morel mushrooms grow in Indiana?
Sponges, Yellow, Morchella, Black & Grey Morels & Snakehead Mushrooms and so many more such as chicken of the woods or shelf mushrooms are the main mushrooms for hunting, cooking recipes such as red wine mushroom sauce for steaks or morel pasta sauce and much more!
No matter the type of sponge mushroom you seek in the forest this Spring in Indiana, morels are really considered a “holy grail” of springtime in forests across the country, Morel mushrooms are just as fun to hunt as they are to eat. Highly sought after by cooks, chefs and restaurants around the globe, these gourmet mushrooms are a key ingredient to sauces, pasta dishes and on the side with a steak. I’ve had my fair share of deep fried mushrooms with a cold beer as well 🙂
Ecologists and mycologists tend to agree on one thing… no one truly understands how, when, why and where sponge mushrooms grow. Certain species of morels like grays and yellows tend to be found under deciduous trees like elm trees, ash trees or sycamore trees and stump or deadfalls. Some experts believe that burned forests (prescribed burns or wildfires) have some effect on sponge mushroom populations.
At the end of the day, mushroom hunting is about simplicity, getting back to nature, being on wooded hunting land, and in many cases, camaraderie with family & friends. We hope you are able to get out on some wooded property this season and have great luck on your mushroom hunt.
See you out on the land!