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Puffballs, Toadstools and Fairy Rings

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Puffballs, Toadstools and Fairy Rings
« on: September 11, 2011, 07:15:33 PM »
Saturday evening I was cutting a few weeds along the soybean fields. While walking back to the house along the airstrip, I noticed hundreds of puffball and toad stool mushrooms growing in the grass in heavier dark green patches I have heard called fairy rings. I cut them off with the hoe I was carrying. Some I threw off the grass into the soybean field. Finally got too many, so just cut them off and let them lay. Puffballs in size from golfball to large softball size. Today I mowed the airstripand many more had matured overnight. Had at least as many as I had cut the night before.

Wish I was more knowledgable about mushrooms. These puffballs were big enough to cut a sandwich slice from. Some were pure white and others were a grayish brown. When I mowed today the mower sliced them perfectly to fry and laid them out nice and even. Afraid to try any of them as I don't know the good ones from the poison ones.

The toad stools had hard thick stems and were pink under the umbrella. Stems about 1 to 1/2 inches thick and hard to cut with the hoe.

Recent rains and cool weather have been ideal for the growth of these mushrooms.

Anyone know how to tell the good ones from the poison ones?

Gene

Puffballs, Toadstools and Fairy Rings
« Reply #1 on: September 11, 2011, 08:29:55 PM »
Interesting question, Gene.  I, like you, have no knowledge of species identification.  One area of my side lawn grows beautiful mushrooms every year.  As they are in clear view of the road, folks occasionally stop and ask if they can harvest some.  As long as they are courteous enough to ask, it is fine with me if someone makes use of them.  Sometimes a person will just walk in with a plastic bag and help themselves and that is quite annoying.  I resent my lawn being treated like a town park.  I wish I had a person to come by and make identification with me so I could use some.  I am sure they are an edible variety but I do not take the chance.  If a toad stool and a mushroom grew side by side, I could not tell them apart.

Charlie V.

Puffballs, Toadstools and Fairy Rings
« Reply #2 on: September 11, 2011, 09:33:37 PM »
Hi Charlie;

I did a little reading on Google and for sure the puffballs are edible and very desirable. They say to cut them from top to botton and if white all the way, they are prime to prepare. If starting to turn gray or brown, they take on a sour taste and become tough, but still safe to eat. Tried to research the toadstools, but couldn't find enough information to feel comfortable with them.

My puffballs last night and this afternoon were pure white and firm and heavy. Probably passed over a whole year's worth of good mushrooms.

Several years ago at another farm I owned. I saw a white ball in the cattle pasture. Thought it was a soccer ball someone had lost. Each day it kept getting bigger so finally walked out to see what it was. This puffball eventually grew to a 47 1/2 inch circumforence and weighed 18 pounds. Didn't know it at the time, but the local paper was registering biggest mushrooms and the one I had would have won by a very large margin.

The fairy rings have always been a mystery to me. My airstrip was completely plowed and tilled and graded before I seeded it 8 years ago and the fairy rings appeared within a year or 2, so wasn't likely an existing condition. These areas are where the toadstools grow, sometimes in an almost continuous line. Looks like another subject to study??

Gene

Puffballs, Toadstools and Fairy Rings
« Reply #3 on: September 11, 2011, 09:51:45 PM »
Did a little research and found this site that explains how they form. Looks like I will have to tolerate them. I had thought the rings supported the growth of mushrooms, but just the opposite, the mushrooms actually create the rings by expanding thier growing territory. The dark green grass is due to the nitrogen released by the fungus.


http://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/archives/parsons/turf/publications/fairyrings.html

Puffballs, Toadstools and Fairy Rings
« Reply #4 on: September 12, 2011, 08:25:31 AM »
Good Morning Gene,

Very interesting what is going on in the ground we walk on.  The Aggie paper does not mention soil acidity or any bearing it may have.  Based on the fact that the fungus renders the soil somewhat impervious to water, it is unlikely an application of lime to sweeten the soil would change things.

I checked that out, and here it is in a nutshell.  Fungal growth is not greatly influnced by soil Ph.

 http://www.colorado.edu/eeb/EEBprojects/FiererLab/Rousk_etal_ISMEJ_2010.pdf

Does the ready supply of puffballs mean your consumption of Poterhouse Steaks is likely to increase?? (Darn, that sounds good.)

Another lawn issus that I have to wonder about are the fertile strips.  In a couple of places in my lawns, a strip up to a foot wide can appear that can be up to twenty feet long.  These strips will have lush grass that is richer green and taller than the area surrounding.  I could understand these if it were under a power line where birds sat and dropped fertilizer, but they are not. They are too long and narrow to be barial grounds for anuthing other than an Amazon snake, so that is not it.  Any insight into these?

Charlie V.

Puffballs, Toadstools and Fairy Rings
« Reply #5 on: September 12, 2011, 06:07:15 PM »
After mowing the airstrip yesterday, the mushrooms were absent today. Only one or two were present and these nearest to the woods. Lots of sunshine and warmer temperatures have apparently stopped the growth of them. Was seriously considering collecting a couple of them, but not even a sign of the ones I saw Saturday and Sunday. I sure missed the harvest window on this crop.

Wonder if all mushroom production is this finicky?

Gene