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Last year's fires could mean mushroom boom Feb 3 2005 north.cbc.ca
WHITEHORSE - Experts are predicting an army of mushroom pickers will be invading the Yukon and Alaska this summer.
Record forest fires last year are expected to produce record crops of morel mushrooms - and that could translate into a record influx of transient mushroom pickers.
If the temperature, sunshine and rainfall are just right, burned-over land can produce bumper mushroom blooms.
Jay Moore of the University of Alaska in Fairbanks says previous fires, like one near Tok, Alaska in 1991, show what's possible.
"Between 250,000 and 300,000 pounds of morels were harvested from 90,000 acres burned," he says.
And because last year's fires were much larger, he says, "You take that and multiply that by 60 times and that's the possibilites."
Whatever the weather does, Moore is expecting the pickers will head north to seek their fortunes in the forest.
"We've heard through the grapevine that commercial buyers are looking at coming up and bringing pickers or paying local folks here to pick."
Moore says he's been working with aboriginal groups and Native corporations in Alaska to come up with harvesting plans. He says some aboriginal corporations are also considering forming a commercial mushroom business.
-------------------- Trivia: The official state mushroom of Minnesota is the morel.