2017-05-04 / Life in Leelanau

Morel mushroom hunters anticipate ‘excellent season’

By Jay Bushen
Of The Enterprise staff


AL GARVIN presents a pair of black morel mushrooms which he found near his Solon Township home last Thursday. AL GARVIN presents a pair of black morel mushrooms which he found near his Solon Township home last Thursday. Al Garvin claims to be known as the “morel mushroom hunting guru,” and he lived up to the name last week.

Garvin, a man also famous for his “Polish proverbs,” plucked a pile of beautiful black morels near his home in Solon Township last Thursday — and he has the pictures to prove it.

“They were really tall,” Garvin said. “I got some nice photographs and my wife couldn’t believe them.”

Other morel mushroom enthusiasts may not, either, considering the recent weather across the Leelanau Peninsula.

For most morel-hunting hot spots, it simply hasn’t been warm enough yet. Morels grow best in wet weather with temperatures in the 60s and 70s.

“There’s a few guys finding some, but the ground’s so cold,” said Cedar Hardware store owner Rich Zywicki, a local mushroom expert. “By the weekend, they’ll be finding a lot more. It’s supposed to warm up into the 60s.”


AL GARVIN’S foraging efforts produced an earlier-than-expected platter of black morel mushrooms last week. AL GARVIN’S foraging efforts produced an earlier-than-expected platter of black morel mushrooms last week. The weather.com forecast for Cedar agrees as of this writing, with today’s high slated at 61 degrees.

Leif Sporck, owner of Sporck Tileart, said on Tuesday that most black morels are just starting to pop up.

“I haven’t looked in my spots, but Mother’s Day weekend is pretty prime for those,” Sporck said. “That’s pretty consistent, even if it’s a dry year. That’s the peak of the black morels.”

He added: “I always look at the leaves on the aspens and poplars. When you first start seeing the green, I’ve always used that as a marker of when you can start finding black morels.”

Sporck said white morels, which are often found in fields near orchards, are just starting to sprout, as well.

He spotted his first white morels of the season in his yard on Monday.

“It’s looking like it’s going to be an excellent season, maybe the best I can remember,” Sporck said. “As long as we get a little bit of warm weather, I can’t see how it could be any better.”

Many mushrooms may be on the way in Leelanau County, but few folks have permission to sell them.

That’s because Gov. Rick Snyder on New Year’s Eve vetoed House Bill 5532, which would have eliminated certification requirements for the sale of morel mushrooms to restaurants and other food establishments — including Buntings Cedar Market.

“Retailers have to have a Michigan-certified mushroom expert on the payroll, and we don’t have anyone,” said Ken Jeffrey, who works at the store.

So, in other words, certification is still needed to sell morel mushrooms — but not to pluck them.

Well aware, many local foragers have been finding mushrooms and sharing photos of their success on the “Overheard in Leelanau County” Facebook page for weeks.

In fact, one local mushroom guru pulled 6.5 pounds of mushrooms near Cedar and shared photo evidence of her find on April 23.

That guru’s name is Brittany Garvin, who apparently beat her second cousin, Al, to the punch this year.

Return to top