Cultivated Morels…a timeline

cultivatedshroomsIt never fails, I’m at an expo with my morel wares displayed and an observer states, “The person that figures out how to grow these commercially will sure be rich!” My standard answer is, “Actually, the process has been figured out. But, no one has gotten rich from it.” I then produce a picture or pictures from any number of books on hand that show morels growing in a laboratory. I also then reiterate that no one has yet become wealthy in the process.
Scientific papers documenting attempts at growing morels date back to the late 18th century. But it wasn’t until the early 1980s that things really started to happen. Dr. Ron Ower, of San Francisco, published a paper claiming that he had successfully grown morels. From what I understand, he had a hard time convincing anyone of the veracity of his claim, until a group from Michigan State University and Neogen Corp., both of Lansing, Michigan, invited Ower to prove his claim. Ower was successful and a patent for the process was granted in 1986. However, Ower was murdered during a street crime in San Francisco just prior to the patent being granted. (The murder had nothing to do with his morel research.)  Read more