How the mild winter will affect mushroom hunting this year

For Friday's Facebook story of the day, you wanted to know if it's too early to go mushroom hunting due to the damp, mild winter.

Periodic light rains, daytime temperatures in the 70's and overnight temperatures in the upper 40's make for perfect mushroom weather, so the mild winter will actually lead to an earlier mushroom season.

"I think with this warm weather we've had this spring, kind of unseasonably warm early on, we're already actually seeing some reports or hearing some reports from people that are actually finding them," said Alan Foster of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. "And it's a little bit, technically, it's a little bit early, usually we really don't start seeing Morels pop up till about mid-April, but I know the temperatures, the soil temperatures is the big thing and we're up there, so I think it's time to get out there and start looking."

Foster said he's already heard reports in Keokuk and other places across Southeast Iowa where mushroom hunters are finding early bloomers.

However, the early season does not necessarily project a perfect one.

"If we get a cold snap or something like that, we had this happen last year where we had some pretty good Morel findings early on and then we got a cold snap into the 50s for an extended period of time... and that really shut the season down and it's hard to get started back up after that," Foster said. "So if we do get a cold snap, that's going to shut things down, or if we get a, you know, really warm spell in the 70s and 80s without any moisture coming in, then that's probably going to slow things down quite a bit as well."

There are five species of mushrooms in Iowa, and the first to start appearing early are gray mushrooms. Yellow mushrooms will follow, and hunting can carry into late May, if there are proper weather conditions.