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Morel Mushroom Report

To hunt mushrooms in Nebraska is to hunt morels. Emerging for a few weeks each spring, these mushrooms are prized for their rich flavor. With their honeycombed cone-shaped cap, they’re also relatively easy to find and identify — if you know where and when to look. Read on for tips on identifying and finding morels, as well as for weekly reports on where mushroom hunters are finding morels in Nebraska, and where they’re not. Happy hunting!
 

Morel hunting tips

When to hunt morels

The emergence of morel mushrooms varies from year to year with the advance of spring weather, soil temperature and moisture. According to most mycologists, ground temperature for morels to push through the soil typically needs to be fifty degrees at four to six inches inches below the surface. This generally occurs in mid- to –late, April, though morels have arrived both earlier and later. Many hunters heed old-time advice and head to the woods when the lilacs bloom.

Morels ordinarily appear for a two to three week period, if not a bit longer, depending on conditions. Individually, a morel mushroom emerges, grows, and dries within about four to six days.

Where to hunt morels

Along the Missouri River, avid morel mushroom hunters key into jack-in-the-pulpits, May-apples, ferns and phlox. Morel mushrooms are often found amid these plants in the same combination of soil, moisture, slope and sunlight preferred by the mushrooms.

To scout for early season morels, a seeker of the treasured fungi needs to check the south-facing slopes of woodlands with loose soils and high humidity where sunlight can penetrate to the ground near decaying organic matter (vegetation). Search an area until you find one or two, then slow down and more carefully scour the area. Always get permission before hunting morels on private land.

Where to find morels on public land

Hobby picking (non-commercial harvesting) for morel mushrooms is allowed on Nebraska Game and Parks Commission owned and controlled properties, unless signed otherwise. A current, valid state park entry permit is required on motor vehicles entering lands in the Nebraska state park system. Be aware that spring wild turkey hunters may be on state wildlife management areas and please steer clear of their blinds and decoys.

Morels are commonly found near rivers, so it’s no surprise that the following river-adjacent state parks and recreation areas are excellent locations to find morels:

  • Eugene T. Mahoney State Park
  • Indian Cave State Park
  • Louisville State Recreation Area
  • Platte River State Park
  • Schramm Park State Recreation Area
  • Two Rivers State Recreation Area

However, rivers aren’t the only locations where morels can be abundant. Old-growth forest and creek edges also present good morel opportunity. Those features can be found in the following public spots:

  • Branched Oak State Recreation Area
  • Burchard Wildlife Management Area
  • Grove Lake Wildlife Management Area
  • Pawnee Lake State Recreation Area
  • Twin Lakes Wildlife Management Area
  • Yellow Banks Wildlife Management Area

This list should get you started. To find other public land that might yield morels, view the Public Access Atlas.


 

Weekly morel reports

The following updates are from Nebraska Game and Parks conservation officers and other staff from across the state. Reports will be posted each week.

The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission reminds mushroom hunters that they must obtain permission from private landowners before treading on any property, whether that land is posted or not. Morel mushroom hunters are also being advised to know and respect property boundary fences. State parks, state recreation areas and wildlife management areas managed by the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission are open to the public for mushroom hunting.

Morel mushroom hunters are reminded that it is illegal to park at bridges along public roadways. Those kayaking or air boating are reminded that river sandbars and woodlands are nearly all privately-owned and permission must be obtained to go on to those areas to look for morels.

April 27, 2017 update

Dixon County
This week’s weather has been very cold and there have been few morel hunters out.

Douglas County
Many morels of various sizes are still being found in the Elkhorn, Platte and Missouri river bottom woodlands by dead and decaying cottonwoods, elms, green ash and box elder trees near Omaha. Since we are now seeing larger morels being collected, we, most likely are on the back portion of the morel mushroom harvest season along river bottoms. Morels have popped up in the hilly forested areas above rivers and associated creeks, and this is the time to check those locations.

Garden County
We still have mushrooms in Garden County along the North Platte River.

Sarpy County
Many morels of various sizes are still being found in the Elkhorn and Platte river bottom woodlands by dead and decaying cottonwoods, elms, green ash and box elder trees. Since we are now seeing larger morels being collected, we, most likely are on the back portion of the morel mushroom harvest season along river bottoms. Morels have popped up in the hilly forested areas above rivers and associated creeks, and this is the time to check those locations.

Saunders County
Many morels of various sizes are still being found in the Platte river bottom woodlands by dead and decaying cottonwoods, elms, green ash and box elder trees. Since we are now seeing larger morels being collected, we, most likely are on the back portion of the morel mushroom harvest season along river bottoms. Morels have popped up in the hilly forested areas above rivers and associated creeks, and this is the time to check those locations.

April 20, 2017 update

The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission reminds mushroom hunters that they must obtain permission from private landowners before treading on any property, whether that land is posted or not. Morel mushroom hunters are also being advised to know and respect property boundary fences. State parks, state recreation areas and wildlife management areas managed by the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission are open to the public for mushroom hunting.

Dixon County
Mushroom hunters are finding decent numbers, mostly off of sand bars. Big numbers haven’t been seen up in the hills yet, but those will likely come next week.

Douglas County
Lots of morel mushrooms are being picked in the moist leaf matter of hilly forested areas above the Missouri River. Mushrooms are popping up along the Platte and Elkhorn rivers, as well. This is a great time for mushroom hunting and it will likely get even better in the coming week. Two Rivers State Recreation Area has been producing good mushrooms but is experiencing heavy foot traffic now.

Lincoln County
Mushrooms should be sprouting any day if not already.

Otoe County
People can find mushrooms about anywhere.

Sarpy County
Mushrooms are popping up along the Platte and Elkhorn rivers. This is a great time for mushroom hunting and it will likely get even better in the coming week.

Saunders County
Mushrooms are popping up along the Platte River. Conditions are good for mushroom hunting now and will likely get better in the coming week.

Washington County
Lots of morel mushrooms are being picked in the moist leaf matter of hilly forested areas above the Missouri River.

April 13, 2017 update

Dawson County
Small morels have been discovered along the Platte River woodlands in Dawson County.

Dixon County
No morels or hunters spotted in the past week; cool weather here continues to keep chances at a minimum.

Douglas County
The Missouri River woods in the northern part of the county are producing small batches of gray morels, though it may take some time and effort to find them. Additionally, morels have been found along the Platte River bottom woods in Douglas County.

Lincoln County
Still no confirmed sightings, but the conditions are such that they should be sprouting any day.

Sarpy County
Small clusters of 3- and 4-inch morels are being found sporadically in the Platte River woodlands near dead and decaying trees in Sarpy and Saunders County.

Saunders County
Small clusters of 3- and 4-inch morels are being found sporadically in the Platte River woodlands near dead and decaying trees in Sarpy and Saunders County.

Washington County
Small morels are popping up in the Missouri River woods in Washington County.

April 6, 2017 update

Cass County
A few patches of small, 1 1/2 inch gray morels were found in short grass/vegetation in Missouri River woodlands near Union. Additionally, small gray morels, ½-inch to ¾ inches in size were confirmed long the Missouri River woodlands near Plattsmouth.

Garden County
Stilll too cold for mushrooms.

Lincoln County
Ground is too cold and mushrooms haven’t yet started coming up.

Otoe County
The rain throughout the week is expected to help. Expecting slow activity this weekend.

 

Morel recipes

Many morel hunters swear by one of two ways of preparing morels — breading and frying, or sauteing in some butter and herbs. For those looking for a new twist on morel preparation, here are recipes from NEBRASKAland’s Jenny Nguyen for morel linguine and morel pizza.
 

Hunting other mushrooms in Nebraska

Once the morel season is over, many mushroom hunters assume the mushroom season is over, but it’s not. In fact, it’s just getting started. NEBRASKAland’s Julie Geiser wrote about the many varieties of edible mushrooms available in Nebraska, where to find them, and how to prepare them. Read the full story.