Summer drought costing mushroom season, foraging better in Southern Estonia

Basket of foraged wild mushrooms, including chanterelles (
Basket of foraged wild mushrooms, including chanterelles ("kukeseened") and boletes ("puravikud"). Source: ERR

In many parts of the country, this summer's drought is affecting not just crops, but also the abundance — or lack thereof — of wild mushrooms in the forest. Southern Estonia has been seeing more precipitation, however, and better mushroom foraging conditions as a result.

The first mushroom mycologist Leho Tedersoo found when he went foraging for mushrooms near Tartu on Sunday morning was one that allegedly few dare pick.

"This is a kitsemampel," he said, identifying his find — a Cortinarius caperatus. "Little known, but a very good edible mushroom."

According to Tedersoo, there are more mushrooms to be found growing in Southern Estonia than in other parts of the country, likely due to higher precipitation levels.

"You can find a few chanterelles, and russulas and boletes have recently begun to appear, but there's still relatively little of everything," he acknowledged.

As this summer's drought has damaged mushrooms' mycelia in many areas, chances are better of finding wild mushrooms growing in forests with damper soil.

"You're still better off looking for chanterelles and boletes, and it would be more worthwhile looking in damper spots, where mycelia didn't sustain as much damage," the mycologist explained.

As elsewhere, mushroom hunters in Põlva County are saddened when their go-to mushroom forests are cut down, or when wild animals have dug up a specific foraging spot.

"If forests have been cut down there or some kind of wild animals have been a bit busy there, then there won't be any mushrooms there," said Saima, one such forager. "Then you have to look around a bit more."

Many wild mushroom enthusiasts are eagerly awaiting fall, however, which should bring more mushroom species into the mix on top of typical summer ones.

"There are boletes, and there are russulas too, but really we're waiting for fall so we can really pick milk-caps, and then things will be better," Sigrid added.


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Editor: Aili Vahtla

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