SIKESTON -- Missouri outdoors are almost never like heaven until the turkeys start gobbling in the woods, crappie and bluegill are biting in the lakes and the fungus underfoot. That's right; April is the month when you can pursue Missouri's turkey, crappie, bluegill and morels.
Each is without equal. No game matches the challenge presented by a wily tom turkey; no fish surpasses the delicate flavor or a crappie or bluegill filet. And, yes the morel? Well, it combines the better of the first two. The temperature effects the morel hunting prospects. Early morels begin sprouting when the average daily temperature is about 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
When the average daily temperature climbs above 50 degrees, you can reasonably begin looking for the black and half-free morels. False morels appear about the same time. Not until the average daily temperature reaches the mid 50s do the most sought after species, the common and late morels, make their appearances.
Taking daily temperature readings and punching a calculator isn't appealing to most mushroomers. Furthermore, it's no more accurate and considerably less satisfying than relying on intuition.
After several years of hunting (and finding) morels you develop a kind of sixth sense about when and where to find them. One simple way to calculate the probable peak of morel season is to consult an almanac and add about two weeks to the average date of the last frost for your area.
Mushrooming isn't limited to April and May however. Mushrooms can be found from February to June. It's not an especially helpful answer, I admit, but neither is, "When the proper combination of temperature, moisture and nutrients are present."
Even if you know precisely what temperature and soil moisture content causes morels to sprout, the information would be next to useless. These factors change from day to day and from hour to hour in the springtime, not to mention variations from every ridge, hillside, valley and pasture in the state.
The morel patch you found dry as a bone yesterday could get a good thundershower Friday and be crawling with morels by Monday afternoon. Persistence is the hallmark of a successful mushroomer.
Good luck in your hunt for morels in Missouri.