Are cultivated morel mushrooms possible?

Researchers at Michigan State University are exploring the possibility of cultivating morel mushrooms in the U.S.

Ag economics professor Scott Swinton tells Brownfield, “Even though it’s difficult to cultivate them outdoors and we’re still learning how to do this in the United States, the prices are high enough that there’s hope that with even with fairly low yields, you might still be able to make a profit.”

Swinton says foragers surveyed during 2021 reported selling wild morels for around $35 per pound, and prices have only turned higher.

But, he says the fungi are difficult to grow.

“The typical yields that we were getting were on the order of 1/6 of a pound per foot of row,” he says. “Only 30 percent of the plots that growers cultivated over two years actually produced any harvestable morels at all.”

Swinton says none of the participants would have been profitable given their production costs, but the research lays the foundation of what breakeven yields are needed to be successful.

Farmers in about a dozen states, including Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa, and Indiana, partnered with researchers on the four-year study.

AUDIO: Scott Swinton, Michigan State University

Photo courtesy of MSU.

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