Northwest wild mushrooms are in short supply this year. That’s had a big impact on the region’s lucrative mushroom hunting industry. It’s also changed what’s on fall restaurant menus in the Northwest and across the nation.
At Pagliacci Pizza in Seattle this autumn, customers are often coming home to their families without the coveted mushroom Primo Pizza. The Northwest’s bleak mushroom crop means sometimes the stores cut back on the number of pies, or don’t have them at all.
“We’ve run out of mushrooms at certain locations. And customers, who wait for it all year, haven’t been able to get it," says the pizza chain’s Shelley McNulty. "So definitely we’ve had some challenges keeping our customers happy with something that they really love.”
So what happened? Mushroom experts say an unusually dry summer and fall didn’t set a good crop of many favorite varieties. Then, the rains came just in time to rot those that had emerged.
Now, it’s turned too wintery for the forest fruit. Some mushrooms do OK in drier weather. And top foragers say they’re finding just enough to tide them through spring when morels arrive.
Copyright 2012 Northwest Public Radio