Tasty wild mushroom, the morel is a dish that is eaten in moderation, given its high price (calculate almost a hundred euros per kilo), but also because of its very short season. Its particularly capricious cultivation has been the subject of research for years. Biologists would have found the key and we could now envision a democratization of their production.
Ah, what would Bresse chicken in yellow wine be without the morels? Culinary ecstasy wouldn’t be the same at all without the presence of these famous mushrooms that play erratically and hide under the damp grass from March to June. So much for the theory, because this small mushroom with a delicious nutty taste is not so easy to pick. A number of parameters prevent us from writing generalities about it. The more the season progresses, the more you have to climb in height to find one, knowing that you need to know how to distinguish the cone-shaped morels, i.e. black, from the so-called common morels, i.e. blond.
Overcoming the cultivation of morels in greenhouses
The ambition to grow morels in greenhouses is not new. For several years now, producers have embarked on this very delicate task, which requires setting ventilation, specific humidity levels and precise shading in order to hope for an economically viable harvest. In China, a scientist, Doctor Douxi Zhu, has developed a technique of artificial cultivation that allows to obtain ten to fifteen tons per hectare, according to the blog of an engineer-agronomist Corenthin Chassouant, Horti generation† But this type of production is particularly erratic because it is necessary to adapt the growing conditions to each of the soils – while knowing how to anticipate climatic hazards, this expert media specifies that this matter is “a challenge for experienced growers”naturally attracted by the little mushroom’s financial windfall.
A French company called France Morelles, which brings together researchers and professionals from the food industry and agriculture, has created a cultural sector. It sells licenses for growing morels, including seedlings, a selection of parent varieties, as well as all the necessary equipment such as the tunnel or the sails. According to data from France Morelles, half of their professional customers get 200 to 400 g of morels per square meter.
Found a solution in Denmark
It will be clear: growing morels is complicated! In Denmark, a duo of biologists think they have found the solution. According to Green Queen, the scientists managed to grow nine kilos of morels per hectare per year in greenhouses in six months. It is the result of more than forty years of research conducted in collaboration with the University of Copenhagen and the Royal University of Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine. The two researchers developed an artificial soil to avoid any risk of contamination from bacteria that could reduce the amount of harvest. They also evaluated many morel species to identify the most prolific. The duo is now considering marketing their method and even foresees the automation of morel cultivation. Their goal: to lower the cost price of these precious mushrooms so that they are more accessible… Black gold, which is picked up at exorbitant prices at the end of the year, can the consumption of truffles be democratized thanks to glasshouse horticulture?