Resources for Mushroom Growers
Morel Mushroom Cultivation

Morels are one tough mushroom to grow commercially! Two cultivation processes have been patented. The first process is based upon work by Ronald D. Ower, Gary Mills and James Malachowski, who were the first to produce morels in a controlled environment at San Francisco State University in 1982. The findings were published in Mycologia 74(1), Jan-Feb 1982. Still, at last report, no one, besides the inventors, has been able to produce morels by the instructions in the patent. Terry Farms opened a morel production facility in Auburn, Alabama with Mill's assistance and offered their products for a few years, producing up to almost 1,400 pounds per week, but closed down the operation in 1999. In 2005 Mills, formerly with Diversified Natural Products and now with Gourmet Mushrooms, Inc., began producing morels in Scottville, Michigan. While the operation was initially very profitable, the farm was hit with a severe bacterial infection in 2006. Mill's had been producing Morchella rufobrunnea derived from a morel originally collected in California. This is a yellow morel typically found in landscaped areas. For more information on this species, see this report from the July-September 2008 edition of Mycotaxon. Mills continues to work with Gourmet Mushrooms in efforts to make morel production commercially viable.

The second patented process was invented by Stuart C. Miller. This process involves outdoor cultivation of inoculated tress under which the morels will fruit if the trees are killed. The process is generally described at morelfarms.com.

Hao Tan, et al, published an article in Environmental Microbiology on July 17, 2019 titled Multi-iomic analyses of exogenous nutrient bag decomposition by the black morel Morchella importuna reveal sustained carbon acquisition and transferring. It explains how morels use bags of nutrients. The supplementary material provides a lot of background information including the process researchers used to grow the morels. Professor Tan told us, "We welcome farmers, technicians, biotechnological engineers and scientists all around the world to replicate this method in their countries and harvest their own morels. The "M. importuna SCYDJ1-A1" is not the only variety that can fruit under artificial cultivation. To our knowledge, this method is working on any strains of M.importuna, M.sextelata or M.eximia which can be easily obtained from the wild. Do remember, the method is not working on M.esculenta."

Some suppliers sell morel spawn with instructions for creating a small outdoor patch. This works, sometimes, but it is certainly not a sure thing and don't expect commercial yields.

This page was last updated on: September 04 2019.