Mushroom crop thrives in Wisconsin

Posted at 6:34 PM, Oct 17, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-17 19:53:43-04

Steve Shapson, the president of the Wisconsin Mycological Society, grows mushrooms in his back yard.

"You have to use live logs to grow mushrooms that you want to eat," he said. But, you don't need live logs to find mushrooms you can eat. For Shapson and the people in the society knowing mushrooms and foraging them is a lifestyle. This year, that lifestyle has seen a boost from Mother Nature.

"You like to have a dry period and then a wet period. And then no rain at all. You don't want it to rain on the fungi, because then it just absorbs more water," explained Shapson. He said it's a shock to the underground system of fibers that causes them to sprout mushrooms. Shapson said mushrooms growing from the fibers are like apples on a tree. With the right conditions, many more grow.

"They just go nuts and they produce a lot of fruiting bodies, and then mushrooms will absorb water, too," he said.

Shapson said you can eat many types of mushrooms, but you need to be very careful.

"Never eat anything unless you're absolutely sure and you have some expert that tells you that it's okay," he said. The same goes for dogs. The American Kennel Club warns against pups eating unknown mushrooms.

When in doubt, Shapson said you can email the Wisconsin Mycological Society and they can tell you if a mushroom is safe. He said if they aren't sure, they'll direct you to someone who will be. He said mushrooms are free food, as long as you know they're safe.

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