Is it as bad for mushrooms this year as people think?

In real life and the parallel life of social media, there is currently a lot of discussion about whether the 2022 mushroom season is bad, awful or terrible. 

Many people are returning from the forests with almost empty baskets and muttering bitterly about the reason for the lack of fungus in abundance, whether it be heat, drought or a misalignment of the stars.

Latvian Radio turned to mycologist Diāna Meiere of the Latvian Nature Museum to ask if the mushrooms really are keeping their distance this year, or if it's just sour grapes from people who didn't get up early enough to get the good ones.

Meiere admitted that while there are still mushrooms in the top layer of the soil and other substrates where mushrooms live, they do seem to be less obvious at the moment.

When asked if the mushrooms are waiting for the autumn rains to reveal themselves, the expert said: "Under normal conditions, I would say that they need rain and after the rain, as a rule, the mushrooms appear, but this year is different, because even in those regions where it has rained more, the mushrooms do not always follow the rain. Somehow, it seems that in many places the mushrooms dried up so much during the summer that they are currently trying to regain their strength underground, and we can only hope for next year."

However, it is impossible to say definitely why there are fewer mushrooms this year, because no detailed studies have yet taken place. Studying mushrooms is a relatively complicated process because it is relatively difficult to see everything that happens underground, however, the mycologist pointed out that drought could be a reliable guess, knowing what conditions are needed for mushrooms to thrive and grow.

However, it's not as if there are no mushrooms at all. Meiere said that as far as the much-loved chanterelles are concerned, the year is "not so crazy". 

"You can also pick a lot here and there, because there are pictures where chanterelles are literally scattered on the ground. With other mushrooms, the situation is much worse. For example, there should have been all kinds of russula fungi, but they can hardly be found anywhere, and many boletus are also very sparse." Other popular species are also thin on the ground, she said.

However, she stated that a week ago she was at an event near Ventspils, and there were quite a lot of mushrooms there. Therefore, the northern coast of Kurzeme could be the place where more edible mushrooms can be found.

As for the annual mushroom exhibition at the museum, which is planned from September 14, hopes are still not lost that the mushrooms will arrive in the nick of time, like the US Cavalry. Meiere said that now we have to wait to see what will happen.

"It was a few years ago, when it was also a very hot summer, but the principle worked there, that where it had rained, there were mushrooms, we went to those regions where it had rained, and we collected quite a large exhibition. How will it be this year, it's hard to say," she said.

When pressed on if there is still any hope to expect mushrooms this year, she answered: "When I am asked such a question, I am usually an optimist, thinking that the mushrooms will not go anywhere and will grow, but this year, looking at the situation, I could limit my optimism... I hope there will be mushrooms, but I can't say for sure."

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