No rain means no mushrooms

Buyer hasn’t purchased one chanterelle this year from area pickers

Keith Hunter shows off a crop of chanterelle mushrooms in happier times.

The weather is beautiful on Central Vancouver Island this fall, but don’t tell that to Keith Hunter or the people he serves.

They’re looking for rain, soon, and lots of it.

Hunter is the driving force behind First Nations Wildcrafters in Port Alberni, which buys natural products collected from Island forests. One of the main products he sells is chanterelle mushrooms, but it’s starting to look like there could be at best a poor season for mushrooms, or maybe even no real season at all.

And every day the sky remains cloudless and the ground stays dry makes that possibility ever more real.

To date, Hunter hasn’t purchased a single chanterelle from area pickers, a far cry from the season three years ago when his first shipment went out in early August.

“That was considered early,” he said. “Last year we didn’t start until mid-September, because we were waiting on quality. When they come up early they can be dry and we sell into the produce market, so they want shelf life.”

The end of the yellow chanterelle season comes when the ground freezes and Hunter noted there has been frost in the Alberni Valley over the last couple of nights, although he stressed it’s not enough to hurt the mushrooms — yet.

“I doubt the frost penetrated to the forest floor,” he said. “The canopy tends to protect them.”

Hunter noted that while pickers can find mushrooms until early November, he cuts off his buying before that, as the mushrooms to be found tend to be either old or waterlogged, or both.

“There comes a point where the pickers are spending more time looking for the quality than the quantity and there comes a point where it doesn’t work for them anymore,” he said.

That morning frost, and the sunny weather that follows it are not good signs and he knows it. His company requires not just mushrooms, but good, high quality mushrooms, and while casual pickers may be able to hunt up enough for their limited needs, the commercial harvest — and the commercial harvesters who rely on the added income it generates, could be entirely out of luck.

“I don’t know if there will be a season for the commercial harvest,” Hunter said. “It’s like farming, I guess. Some years are good years and some not so good. This year it’s not looking good.”

 

 

Just Posted

Team Harrison prevails in Port Alberni men’s bonspiel

Annual bonspiel drew 20 teams from out of town

Wedding plans derailed following City of Port Alberni’s train announcement

Five wedding parties are scrambling to find alternate transportation arrangements to McLean… Continue reading

Kids help Alberni Aquarium build rockfish luminary for next exhibit

Swimming For Change takes over in time for spring break

Spring fishery closures mulled for south coast

Fewer fish are returning to rivers and more conservation needed, say feds

One dead, two seriously injured in Hwy 4 crash west of Port Alberni

A man has died following a single-vehicle collision west of Port Alberni… Continue reading

National Energy Board approves Trans Mountain pipeline again

Next step includes cabinet voting on the controversial expansion

Pope’s sex abuse prevention summit explained

It’s A high-stakes meeting designed to impress on Catholic bishops the global problem

B.C. ticket holder winner of $25.9-million Lotto Max jackpot

Next draw set for Mar. 1 with an estimated jackpot of $10 million

Reports of rashes prompt closure of all Harrison Hot Springs pools

Public pool available after Fraser Health shut down all five mineral pools until further notice

Girl heard saying ‘Help my Dad’ in suspicious radio message on Vancouver Island

Police asking for help following mysterious signals from somewhere between Comox and Sayward

Two more measles cases confirmed in Vancouver

It brings the number of total cases within the city connected to the outbreak to ten

B.C. Special Olympics officially underway in Vernon

Athlete’s Oath: “Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.”

Vancouver Aquarium wants your help to name a baby killer whale

The public helped name Springer’s first calf, Spirit, and is being asked to help with the second

Most Read