Dry and hot autumn stunts mushroom growth

Mushroom collection usually begins in autumn. :: T.R.
Mushroom collection usually begins in autumn. :: T.R. / T.R.
  • The drought of 2017 has been “a disaster” for the mushroom harvest, with mushrooms having to be imported from other countries in Andalucía

The lack of rain and high temperatures has been catastrophic for the mushroom season in Spain this year. In regions where they usually collect the highest amounts of mushrooms, such as Sanabria, they have nearly lost all of their porcini and Caesar's mushroom fields. Pedro Carlos Pérez, president of the Zamora Mycological Association has described the situation as “an absolute disaster”.

The drought of 2017, considered the worst for two decades, is to blame for this problem. To grow, mushrooms need very humid conditions, days of heavy rain and fresh air, without sudden temperature changes, ice, or heavy winds. However, the ground is too warm and dry for the mushrooms to grow this year.

In Catalonia, they have collected 30 kilogrammes of mushroom per hectare, which is only half of what they usually gather. Usually great mushroom harvesters, the region has to trust that in time some of their most valued species of mushrooms will start to grow.

The Basque Country has taken a huge hit. There, the mushroom season usually starts in June and continues until November. “Although it has started raining now, it will never make up for the lost time, because the varieties that we usually get here, like boletus and cantharelus, have already reached the end of their season”, explains Rafael Picón, president of the Portugalete Mycological Society.

In spite of everything, experts believe that when the season ends, sometime in spring, the mushroom harvest should be similar to that of last year, an average of 60 kilogrammes per hectare.

This is nowhere near close to the 200 per hectare that was produced in 2014 though.

In Andalucía, where it has rained a bit, “there are simply no fields”, says Antonio Caña, director of Demonte. The mushroom selling company has had to source their products from elsewhere while the rainfall begins and mushrooms start growing. Currently they are importing mushrooms from Sweden, Bulgaria, Romania, Russia, and Belarus. Luckily these countries have an abundance of mushrooms which they sell to Spanish consumers for an acceptable price. However, these imported mushrooms are sold for double the price of locally grown mushrooms.

“At the moment, it's not going well. We will get nothing from the boletus and amanita Caesar's harvest but, if it rains, we could salvage the situation with other species”, indicated the president of the mycological society in Cadiz.