Mushroom season off to a slow start thanks to dry summer

Mushroom season off to a slow start thanks to dry summer »Play Video
Somebody is having luck finding chanterelles this year.

EUGENE, Ore. - The long, dry summer meant a slow start to mushroom season, affecting pickers, grocery stores and restaurants.

"By this time usually the woods are flowing with all different varieties of fungi," said Tom LoCascio, organizer of the Mount Pisgah Mushroom Festival, "but things this year have been delayed."

Mushroom season usually gets started in September, but the near-record dry summer slowed things down.

"We dug down into the mulch in the ground to see if there was moisture down there, and it was really dry," said Noah Dailey-McIlrath. "Just a couple inches down there was no water."

He went mushroom hunting last weekend but only found two chanterelles, a variety of mushroom that can only be found in natural conditions.

"They have to be wildcrafted because they cannot replicate their conditions on a farm," Dailey-McIlrath said.

In September, Marche restaurant in Eugene had to buy mushrooms from Washington. This month were they able to find mushrooms to purchase from the Oregon Coast.

"Beautiful, dry, clean mushrooms," said executive chef Karl Zank, "but unfortunately they are also really expensive."

Zank said the price for mushrooms all over the Northwest is high this year because of the low supply.

But there is one positive thing for mushrooms due to the dry season.

"The mushrooms themselves are dry they have more intense flavor," Zank said. "They are clean because they are not getting mud splashed on them from the rain."