If you harvest and sell morel mushrooms each year, you may be in for a nasty surprise.
With one of the biggest ever morel mushroom harvests expected this summer, many people from Canada to the U.S. are looking to cash in on the opportunity. Gatherers can make hundreds of dollars a day by gathering morel mushrooms and selling to roadside buyers. Morels are worldwide delicacies used in restaurants and can fetch up to $14 per pound.
However, at a session in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, Canada, biologist and mushroom harvesting specialist Joachim Obst presented a grim outlook.
Prices were pretty high during the last three years...This year, I was called up by buyers and they told me, 'We are not going to pay $14 this year because world prices are expected to drop by as much as, maybe, 50 per cent.' They expect a huge crop this year, not only in the [Northwest Territories], but there were also a couple of fires in southern BC. It could be that, this year, you only see offers between $6.50 and $8 per pound of fresh morel mushrooms.
Last year's intense fire season left many burnt-over areas across the northern half of the continent. These burned areas are great for finding morel mushrooms, as they respond positively the year after. Given the potential banner year, Obst believes harvesters can still earn a lot of money in 2015. They'll just have to work harder and longer for the same payout.
A person who works a normal day - so, longer than four hours, let's say - still could make a few hundred dollars in a day. A fit person could easily still make $700 or $800 a day, even with low prices."
Added on to all of these factors is the fire season. This year's fire season predictions are grim, which could lead to much of the potential record morel mushroom crop being destroyed. The only upside to this is that prices could then be pushed up further by supply and demand.
Obst revealed that eBay is a great place to monitor the prices for morel mushrooms. Additionally, he noticed that 2014 prices for roadside buyers gradually increased as the season progressed, which could help make up for the steep price declines initially.
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The public seems to remain optimistic, as the session in Yellowknife was heavily attended. Over 200 people filled the venue, clearly showing interest in the opportunity before them. Scott McQueen, from the territorial government's department of industry, tourism and investment, stated,
Everybody's looking for a way to make some extra money. To me, the great thing about morel mushrooms is that what you put into it, you get out of it. If you go out and pick for one hour you'll make a small amount of money, but you'll probably spend as much on gas to get out there.
Shauna Zorn, a woman who attended the session, had a positive outlook on the situation.
I'm at home with my daughter for the summer so, instead of going to work, I'll be 'going to work' with mushrooms. It doesn't matter to me what it's going to be worth, because I'm going at it thinking about learning. If it goes well and we have fun, I'll get serious about it. For this year it's just go out, learn, have fun and see what we can find - without poisoning ourselves.
Happy morel hunting!
Images via MyYellowknifeNow
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