The debate over which technique between picking or cutting is better for harvesting wild mushrooms doesn't seem to be leaving us any time soon. Each technique seems to have its own proponents. Those who prefer picking the entire wild mushroom argue that cutting can leave a stump which acts as a disease vector when it rots. On the other hand, proponents of cutting say that it results in higher yield and that the technique doesn't cause too much disruption to the mycelium underground unlike picking.
So, which harvesting technique should you choose between picking or cutting? This article will take a look at each harvesting technique separately so that you can know which one to choose.
There is a consensus in North America which feels that cutting is the better technique for harvesting wild mushrooms. The argument is that cutting does not disturb the root system. A research was conducted on plots that harvested mushroom by cutting it with a knife and pulling it from the soil. It concluded that yields in the cut plots decreased over time while the yields in plots harvested by pulling mushrooms out increased during the study period.
However, another comprehensive study that has been conducted for more than 30 years showed no difference in yields of mushrooms harvested by either cutting or pulling. The reason why cutting is not a preferred harvesting technique is that it leaves a severed mushroom stump, which can become infected by pathogens such as fungi or bacteria.
Though the pulling technique is becoming more popular among foray enthusiasts, it is highly recommended to cut off mushrooms, fruiting in troops (e.g. chanterelles), from their base. Cutting bigger mushrooms at the base allows the base itself and smaller mushrooms continue to grow.