Typical area where fire morels are found. Rocky Mountains, BC, Canada
Once you’ve found some prospective old burns, the next problem is when to start looking for the morels. Fire morels will start fruiting the spring/summer seasons, but timing is heavily dependent on climate, weather and elevation. As a general rule, fire morels will fruit from March to May in the warmers area of the USA, while the northern areas of the USA and most of Canada will start fruiting from late April to July. Elevation has to be taken into account, since many forest fires happen high in the mountains where winter is slow to leave.
Once spring has hit an area, morel pickers will usually check their choice locations weekly, looking for signs of morels. It’s good to select a few different burns to search if possible, as not all forest fire locations produce morels. When an area starts producing morels, the mushrooms are usually easy to find as they are fairly obvious against the backdrop of barren burnt forest floor. Make sure to spot check multiple areas in a burn, as not all areas of burn will produce morels.
You can of course save yourself the time and effort of finding burn morel picking locations yourself and simply keep an eye on the mushroom message boards, as heavy producing morel area aren’t kept secret for long. Although the first pickers in an area get the early bird advantage of all the choice picking and usually make the most money. You can also try calling local mushroom buyers to see if they have had any morels sold to them yet. This will at least tell you if the season has started and you may even get info on where the morels are being picked.
Remember that you may end up driving on harsh forestry roads to access morel picking locations, so make sure your vehicle is ready for the trip with emergency items like a spare tire or two. It’s preferable to use a vehicle with high clearance and 4 wheel drive, when driving to remote locations.