Good forecast for mushroom picking this autumn
Average yield of up to 60kg per hectare expected after late summer rains 'save' season
The forecast for the mushroom picking season this autumn is expected to be good, thanks to rains that fell in the late summer "saving" this year’s yield.
An average of around 50-60kg of mushrooms per hectare are expected to grow around Catalonia this autumn.
This would beat the average quantities seen in the past three years according to the Catalan Forest Observatory, when only 35.9kg/ha, 35.7kg/ha, and 48kg/ha were collected between 2019-2021. However, it would be far from the fantastic yield of 2018 when 167kg/ha were picked.
"If it hadn't rained, we wouldn't be harvesting anything at all," says Juan Martínez, a researcher at the Forest Science Center of Catalonia, who has been studying fungi for years.
However, Martínez points out that the rain and storms were very localized in certain parts of the territory, and therefore it will be necessary for mushroom pickers to "do some preliminary research to find out where it has rained," as that's where the best places to go looking will be.
The rains have also brought the picking season forward by about a fortnight. "The dates of early-mid August have been recovered, it had not happened for decades," Martínez says.
The mycology expert also emphasized that this year has been one of the driest on record, something which will likely have a negative impact on mushroom cultivation. In spite of this, the late summer rains means the picking season is expected to be "good."
Traffic and optimism in Berguedà
The roads of Berguedà have seen traffic jams on weekends for weeks already, with people eager to start the mushroom season early. This influx of people leads to a certain amount of resignation among some locals, but optimism as well among those involved in tourism and catering.
Ramon Minoves, president of the Berga Mushroom Picking Club, predicts a "good" season in areas where it has rained the most, especially in the north.
He understands that everyone has the right to go to the forest areas to look for mushrooms, but he also made a plea for civility from people who arrive to search for the fungi. "Some regulation must be put in place, but we do not agree with banning people," he says.
Porcini, protagonist of 2022
As for the varieties of mushrooms to be found, Martínez believes that porcini mushrooms, also known as 'penny buns' or 'ceps', will be "the king" this year.
Porcini mushrooms "love heat and water, and the Pyrenees has had precisely that." It's also expected that it will be a good year for 'rovelló' mushrooms, sometimes referred to in English as 'bloody milkcaps.'
In Ripollès, one of the areas where it has rained most frequently in recent weeks, they have already noticed these trends. Local mushroom picker Josep Comamala confirmed to the Catalan News Agency that the porcini mushroom will be king of the crop this season.
Comamala believes the high yields of porcini mushrooms have caused a ripple effect with crowds of people coming to the mountain. "Last Saturday, I counted 160 cars between Espinavell and Setcases," he recalls. However, he doesn't view this as a negative, and says that locals, in general, say that it's a good thing that so many people arrive, especially those working in the hospitality sector.
Filling the Sink podcast
Catalan News headed into the woods with guide Aniol on a quest to find the tastiest, most unusually-named mushrooms in Catalonia. Forager Brian Russell revealed why, unlike most, he's happy to let people know his favorite mushroom picking spots.
Cristina Tomàs White and Guifré Jordan joined Lorcan Doherty to discuss the rural-urban divide over mushrooms, how to cook them once you've found them, and some of the weird and wonderful names that the Catalan language has for the various species.