Mushroom season in Estonia may be delayed due to drought

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A kilo of chanterelle mushrooms cost €50 at Tallinn's Central Market (Keskturg) on June 5.
A kilo of chanterelle mushrooms cost €50 at Tallinn's Central Market (Keskturg) on June 5. Source: ERR

Dry weather may have a negative impact on this year's mushroom harvest in Estonia. However, experts differ on how badly the early summer drought has affected mushroom growth.

Walking around Tallinn's Central Market (Keskturg) last Friday, it was noticeable how few mushrooms were on sale. There was only one vendor selling mushrooms, at €25 a kilo. On Monday this week however, a kilogram of chanterelle mushrooms had already risen to €50. 

According to Professor Leho Tedersoo, head of the University of Tartu's Mycology and Microbiology Research Center, the shortage of mushrooms this year is due to drought.

"It has been caused by the long drought in June, and probably also at the end of May, the mushrooms in the forest have been damaged and in some places have died. It takes time for them to recover," Tedersoo said.

However, in the view of Urmas Kõljalg, professor of mycology at the University of Tartu, the situation is not that bad.

"Initially, there is nothing to worry about, because most of our food is linked to four tree species. For the time being, the situation for those trees is not too bad. This means that our edible mushrooms, which live at their roots - russula, leccinum, milkcaps, chanterelles, too - are in a good situation, they are getting nutrients," Kõljalg said.

Tedersoo believes that the best time for mushrooms is closer to fall. "Of course, it all depends on the weather over the next few weeks, especially the rainfall. If it's plentiful, then somewhere towards the beginning of August even those summer russulas and leccinums might appear."

Kõljalg also added, that if there is rain in the second half of the summer and cooler weather in August, then there could be a good mushroom harvest.

According to mycologist Veiko Kastanje, there is also a chance that the mushroom harvest could improve at the end of the summer. "However, my hopes are on September. And as it is now only the beginning of July, the hopes for August are not really gone either. If the usual wet Estonian summer continues, then the mushroom season this fall autumn could well turn out to be beautiful and classic," he said.

According to Tedersoo, the most popular wild mushrooms among Estonians continue to be chanterelles, boletus and occasionally big parasol mushrooms. "In fact, I dare to think that the proportion of mushrooms being bought in stores is also increasing, that the champignons and oyster mushrooms they sell have become more popular with the public."

According to Kõljalg, some of the more unusual mushroom varieties have also become more popular.

"There has been a lot of picking and eating of the very tasty cortinarius caperatus, as well as the spring mushrooms, which used to be hardly picked at all. So, in fact, Estonians are becoming even more educated when it comes to mushrooms," said Kõljalg.


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Editor: Michael Cole

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