Warm weather brings more morel mushrooms to Heartland

THOMPSONVILLE, IL (KFVS) - A long winter kept many morel mushroom hunters cooped up a little bit longer than usual this year. Now that it's finally starting to warm up in the Heartland these precious spores are starting to pop up on forest floors.

Floyd and Lori Cairns are two mushroom hunters who say they go out searching almost every day of the season.

Floyd has been hunting all his life and Lori started when they married 42 years ago.

Over the years, they have learned the importance of knowing exactly what a Morel looks like, as they aren't the only mushroom growing in the forest this time of year.

The Cairns said it's not too hard to identify a morel, as they are a unique looking fungus.

"These do not grow on logs," Floyd said, "They grow straight out of the Earth, they're spongy, and they are not a solid mushroom."

The Cairns recommend new mushroom hunters do their research or at least take a picture of a morel with you while hunting.

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As far as finding them, the Cairns said it's mostly about just being in the right place at the right time. Although they said they've found better luck in certain types of environments.

"We just look for sycamore trees," Lori said, "and then we look for areas that aren't too grassy and not too leafy."

When you find them, they said it's important to pinch the bottom of the mushroom above the soil so dirt doesn't make them grainy when you prepare them to eat.

If you aren't a fan of mushrooms, Floyd said they sell them easily for $40 a pound.

"We've seen them for $50 a pound," he said, "it's just such a delicacy that people are willing to pay that. I think they're willing to pay more."

The Cairns said the mushroom hunting season is normally almost over this time of year. However, since it stayed chilly in the Heartland in the early days of Spring, they guess there should still be at least two weeks to go find some.

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