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March 29, 2014

Redneck Quaker: Lidster knows his mushrooms

TERRE HAUTE — To be or not to be, mushrooms this year? After looking high and low, I found a legendary Morel mushroom hunter living amongst us here in the Wabash Valley.

You are about to learn all of Richard Lidster’s secrets and knowledge on sneaking up on those elusive creatures. Richard is the oldest of three boys. He’s 67 years old, Mike’s 63 and Steve’s 55.

Richard started hunting mushrooms when he was just a pup and living on South Sixth Street in Terre Haute, so he could find the tasty treats on vacant lots, grassy fields and fence rows, not your typical deep woods areas. Yes, he has found them growing up through cracks in concrete and asphalt and has the pictures to prove it.

I asked if snow cover during the winter made a difference and he said many theories like that have never proven out. He did emphasize moisture and warm nights.

A stack of calendars from years past are his diaries holding the temperatures, weather, location and type of mushrooms with the amount recorded in each day for the months of March and mostly April being the peak season.

Yes, he uses a thermometer to record ground temperatures with 45 to 55 degrees for a week the Peckerheads, Grays and Black are the first to show up. They can start at 43 degrees, he says. For the most prized yellow mushrooms has the liking of warmer weather of 55 to 65 degrees to coax them up out of the ground after a week of warmth. After it reaches 75 degrees for several days, they return to Mother Earth to reseed for next year.

The last two years, it warmed up and then cooled off to kill the spores. It needs to be a steady warming trend with adequate moisture and the temps cannot drop below freezing.

Richard thinks they are connected by some form of roots or fungus type system.

He recommends poking holes in your sack so the mushrooms can let off spores or somehow reseed themselves while being carried through the woods. Never pull one out of the ground. He always cuts them off. Before they go in the sack, he tapes or rubs on them and blows on them to let off their spores.

There has to be some type of growth like a fresh, dead elm tree, briers or honeysuckle. Some favorite spots are strip pits and old railroad beds. Places you don’t think would grow a mushroom “does” and other places you think would “doesn’t.” He says they get 70 percent of their growth in a matter of hours or in a day’s time.

Forest-fire and controlled burn areas are exceptionally good. He knows of people who traveled to upper Michigan and Montana to look in burnout areas finding multitudes of them. Yes, check where you have burned leaves or brush.

Below are a few words from Richard’s personal calendar diaries:

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