other agroforest plantings

dwheeler at teleport.com dwheeler at teleport.com
Sat Dec 6 23:51:31 EST 1997

In article <3489202D.7EF7 at forestmeister.com>,
  Joseph Zorzin <redoak at forestmeister.com> wrote:
> My concern about planting crops of any kind around trees is damage to
> the roots of the trees.
> How do agroforestmeisters deal with this problem?

I don't think I qualify as a +agroforestmeister+, but in Smith's Tree
Crops, it is suggested that plants such as blueberry, herbs,
strawberries, truffles, rhododendrons, herbaceous foliage plants such as
salal and evergreen huckleberry, various ferns, and fungi be
co-cultivated between rows of trees which are spaced slightly further
apart than normal.

This is doubly interesting, because Smith was an economist, not a forest
manager or orchardist. He did, however, suggest in the 1930's that it
made more economic sense to plant oak and chestnut for long-term
production of acorns and nuts as mast, than a similar acreage of corn.
The advantage of tree crops was obvious: one planting every 300 years vs.
planting every year. Chestnut harvest now is still possible provided that
the site is on rather steep slopes, otherwise chestnut blight tends to
affect the tree quickly, usually resulting in stunted growth or death.

It is interesting to note that several species of truffle are also
associated with oak and chestnut.

At a stand of Christmas trees near Pedee, Oregon I just collected about a
pound of Oregon White truffles and Oregon Black truffles, which are
currently selling for about $100 per pound. This truly renewable crop is,
unfortunately, only available to those with Douglas fir stands. However,
I have cultivated both species already.

Early this year I also found a species novum (new species) of truffle
associated with older Oregon White oak near Corvallis, Oregon. This was
somewhat ironic, as Dr. James Trappe, perhaps the world's foremost
authority on truffles, lives just a quarter of a mile away. It was
probably something about wading through ankle- deep poison oak as an
understory which assured the anonimity of this truffle.

Certainly it is also possible to cultivate at least some morels and other
saprophytic fungi with the dead branches pruned from these trees. Whether
this works with other species in unknown. At least some species of morels
may actually be mycorrhizal (symbiotic) with trees such as oak,
cottonwood, fir, and willow. Obviously more research needs to be
accomplished in this area: research that likely would pay obvious

For example, according to an e-mail I receive earlier this year, the
price of Italian White truffles (Tuber magnatum Pico) doubled in 12 hours
at the Spoleto, Italy Truffle Fair this year.

Daniel B. Wheeler

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