West Coast mushroom buyer Butch Sheaves holds a crate of pricey chanterelles. (Nora O’Malley photo)

West Coast mushroom buyer Butch Sheaves holds a crate of pricey chanterelles. (Nora O’Malley photo)

Dry weather causes “unprecedented” cost of chanterelles in B.C.

“We need heavy rain. We need rain that will saturate the ground”

The cost of wild harvested chanterelle mushrooms is up from about $5 per pound to $9.50 per pound this season.

West Coast mushroom buyer Butch Sheaves says the conditions have been “disastrous”.

“There hasn’t been any rain so the mushrooms sort of go dormant until the rains do hit and then we’ll have a world a mushrooms,” said Sheaves from his mushroom buying station near the Tofino-Ucluelet Junction.

Sheaves has been in the mushroom buying business for over 25 years. He says this is the most he has ever paid for chanterelles.

“We need heavy rain. We need rain that will saturate the ground.”

He has about 10 regular pickers out picking in the backwoods right now.

“Most pickers should be getting about 40 pounds a day right now. My best pickers are doing 30 pounds. They are just in a world of their own.”

Sheave’s parent company Ponderosa Mushrooms, a distributor and mushroom grower out of Maple Ridge, said the skyrocketing cost is “completely unprecedented”.

“It’s been the weirdest, longest stretch of dry weather. We need rain bad. There is going to be no change in these prices until we get rain and production somewhere,” said Ponderosa’s president Joe Salvo.

“There is virtually no chanterelle production in North America right now. We are importing chanterelles from Europe to try to sustain sales,” he said, adding that the prices out of Europe are also at a peak.

Salvo said the stretch of dry weather might have something to do with climate change, but wasn’t certain.

“Terrace up in Northern B.C. has a massive crop of pine mushrooms, so I’m not giving up on this crop, but we just need rain,” said Salvo.

RELATED: Hot, dry conditions expected to continue as dozens of B.C. temperature records set



nora.omalley@westerlynews.ca

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READ MORE: Who controls mushroom harvesting on Indigenous lands?

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