Oregon Coastal Range Picking Report
Posted 26 September 2010 - 10:32 AM
Hope this post finds all in good health, and ready for a good pickin' season - all local clues hereabouts (inland about 15 miles, near Coquille) are very good - and the recent rain concentration was what was needed to kick things in high gear. Many believe that I live in the woods over here, but I actually go about 15 miles NE into the Oregon Coastal Range to find my fav spots - our best blooms of eatables are chanterelles in the fall, and hedgehogs in winter. I went out after the first inch we had some three weeks ago now, and pickins were sparse - but with my wife and pickin' partner, we went out again recently after the solid rains over the weekend, and were especially eager to check my "white chants" patches (hereabouts, the whites beat the yellows out by a few weeks, generally).
As I approached "my spot", here's what I saw:
Every year when I go out, I fear I'll find the cutters hard at work clearing everything out of what was prime pickin grounds, but until this year, none of my spots had ever been disturbed - and I still don't know if this is just a thinning or a complete cutting. Interestingly, my spot is about 1/4 mile long, just above a logging road, and the whites seem to concentrate in a strip some 200' wide between the road and the inner woods - my guess is that the whites are motivated more by occasional sun than are the yellows, but I really don't know why they concentrate here - but they do! Also interesting, was the fact that at one end of "my spot" they had cut a new road through, suggesting that they were ready to clear cut somewhere near here.
And on the other end of the spot, they had begun at least thinning in earnest:
But everything in-between looked undisturbed - so we parked, careful to be fully out of the way, and proceeded to my once productive spot - Actually, I'm quite philosophical about "my spots" - I know the possessive nature of those spots exists entirely in my head, and that I'm damned fortunate to have such free access to these governmental lands, in this case, a BLM plot. But still, it's a little disconcerting to stand and watch as a once functional treasure trove gets devastated.
It took me a few minutes to find my first white:
and they were there, but it was obvious that we were still a bit early for the "big bloom". We found a few yellows mixed in here, but they were on the small side - some very small. It's interesting to me how different the development of the individual mushroom is for the white chanterelle as opposed to the yellow - I often see tiny yellow chants covering the floor of the forest, but I don't ever remember seeing a tiny white chanterelle in development! My guess is that the white chanterelle mycelium lies deeper in the duff, and their development is hidden until they finally break through the duff late in the development stage. This guess is reinforced by the fact that often one finds the whites growing up out of deep holes under the duff - and I've never found a yellow like that. I'd love to hear other thoughts on this.
Here are a few more from that area:
At the far end of my spot, which for the most part had not been disturbed by the cutters, I suddenly came on this:
Only a few trees here and there cut, but interestingly, not one mushroom anywhere in the areas which had been thinned! Apparently, it does not take much disturbance to stop a bloom - does anyone know how long it will take for an area which is thinned out to recover and again bloom normally?
We moved on eventually, coming away with about 3 gallons - which for us is respectable - but, as I said, we felt we were early yet. We found a beautiful forest spot and had our lunch - and I determined I'd check out several more local spots which always had been promising, if not as solidly productive as the area we just left.
After having checked two or three other spots with no luck at all (it's always fascinating to me how one area of the forest can be absolutely loaded with mushrooms while all others around it are completely devoid of same - what's with that?), I stopped off at an Oregon State University research plot, which is about 10-12 years old now - I've kept this place on my radar screen for some time now because it's super easy to get around in, it's perfectly flat, whereas almost NO other area here is! And I always find "something" here - so why not?
I walked in and immediately began seeing small yellows everywhere! Most were smaller that a quarter, but truly, there were hundreds everywhere I looked. This area has almost no undergrowth except evergreen huckleberry, a shrub I've always believed has an affinity with chanterelles, especially the white chanterelles - this is what I was seeing:
They were also quite prolific around the old rotting stumps, of which this plot is filled - I especially liked this one, with its offspring growing right up out its rotting heart - I know sitka spruce must have a "nurse tree" in order for new trees to develop, but I'm not aware that Doug fir do this - Yes?
And then -wonder of wonders- I began seeing the whites! Huge whites, quite flat against the ground - this area, being much younger, does not have the deep duff of the other areas, and perhaps cannot provide the deeper mycelium of the previous area.
And here's an interesting shot - as I pulled up one of the large whites, it exposed a large area of the mycelium immediately underneath, which is not always so evident as this:
We gathered another few gallons from here, but really only covered a tiny bit of the area in doing so - but I was exhausted! And still, I think we are ahead of the big bloom. But my heart is most warmed by the knowledge that I have one more prime area for white chants, which for the Coastal Range may not be rare, but they certainly are in the distinct minority to the yellows - and I personally much prefer the whites because of their meatier texture. So we left in good spirits and plans to check back in early next week - I have no idea why I'm not seeing more evidence of other pickers, for this is not a secret area, but I'm not complaining either - hope it continues.
All evidence is for a really nice picking season - we're ready to explode here - hope you all do well.
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