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Roots, Morels and Production

Posts: 1102
Location: Soutwest Ohio
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Okay, this topic sort of touches on forest gardening, fungi, trees and a number of other forum categories, but since at the core, the dilemma is roots and the topic involves more than one type of plant, it is suited to the plant forum. For a few years, I have contemplated the fact that commercial growing of morels has proven so difficult.

As I understand it, morels live harmlessly on the roots of the plant, either just stealing away nutrients or else perhaps symbiotically. Whichever the case may be, they don't tend to fruit until after the roots (and generally the tree) begin to die off. I'd had the thought of taking morel-hosting trees, inoculating them and growing them for about ten years. New trees planted each year.

At the end of that time, I would do one of two things. With those that don't pollard well, I would cut the lumber and then do a controlled burn over that area to induce morels to produce. Alternatively, if I was using something like the Oak/Black Morel combination, I could cut the tree back as a pollard. I am led to understand that when a plant loses mass above the ground, some of the roots below the ground die off as well. If that is true, then it should induce some of the morels to fruit.

So my question is actually twofold I think.
What is known about the interaction of morel fungus and root systems?
Knowing about root systems, do you think the pollard version could work at all?
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Location: Orgyen, zone 8
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D., for years I've also been interested in growing morels as a mycorrhizal crop along with various trees including apples and cottonwoods in an orchard-like setting. I've been inoculating various trees here on my farm with various species of morels using primitive, non-sterile methods for the past several years. So far I've had limited success here, although at my girlfriend's farm, we had a real nice crop of morels in her garden last spring. They fruited right next to the compost pile and underneath a madrone tree and a cedar stump where I had dumped a lot of morel spore slurry in the past.

In 2002, Stewart Craig Miller of Indiana did a bunch of research proving the symbiotic relationship between morels and various species of trees. He applied for and received a patent on his idea to grow morels in a tree plantation on the roots of elm and ash trees. His farm also used to sell inoculated trees, but I'm not sure if they still do. The website is here:


There is a fairly good description on the website of how Miller grows morels on his farm, it's basically the same way truffles are grown in France, except he cuts the trees down to stimulate fruiting, it's very similar to your plan. Let me know what you think.
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