Mushroom season in Estonia off to a promising early start

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

While this year's harvests of cereal crops, vegetables, and to a lesser extent berries, look set to be very poor, the same may not be the case for mushrooms at least, as the forests of Estonia, in Järva and Harju counties in particular, have also yielded an impressive early crop, weekly Maaleht reports.

The long-running dry spell recently came to an end, meaning hordes of mushroomers appearing almost as soon as the rain clouds cleared, Maaleht reports, with much attention paid to the large milkcap (Lactarius deterrimus) harvests, which no one had expected to arrive so early.

Mycologist (fungi expert-ed.) Veiko Kastanje agrees these are out surprisingly early, which gives cause for hope for a longer mushrooming season than last year's – when the fungi were largely gone by the second half of September, again thanks to dry conditions after an unusually sweltering August.

It is still early to fully forecast, however, he added, and all hinges on further rainfall – though the species already in evidence include milkcaps common chanterelles, various species of champignons, and many more.

Of the toadstools and other poisonous fungi to be wary of the much-feared Death Cap (Amanita phalloides), consumption of which, it is thought, may have led to the demise of the Roman Emperor Claudius, has appeared in some places, especially in damper areas.

Where the rain has fallen is in fact key, he added, in the quest for a bumper mushroom haul – the type of forest is less important.

Again, the early arrival of mushrooms in July is not a firm indicator of what is to come, Kastanje went on.

In any case, the traditional social media photos and posts have started to appear; the etiquette is to give a general heads up as to note roughly where in the country the picker is and the types of mushrooms they have been able to find – that way they need not be fully compromised and are yet still playing the game.

Pro mushroomers will travel around the country to find the best patches, while reader photos submitted to Maaleht and the accompanying comments suggest that this year might see a good crop of mushrooms, even if it proves a lean year for much of the rest of nature's bounty.

The original Maaleht piece is here.

Never go mushrooming without a qualified local guide and never consume any mushroom, berry or other plant if you are unsure that it is safe to do so – cooking often does nothing to allay the deadlier fungi's toxins. In addition, getting lost in the forest is another potential pitfall.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

Source: Maaleht

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