other agroforest plantings
dwheeler at teleport.com
dwheeler at teleport.com
Mon Dec 8 02:51:14 EST 1997
In article <348A6BEA.61FB at forestmeister.com>,
Joseph Zorzin <redoak at forestmeister.com> wrote:
> dwheeler at teleport.com wrote:
> > I have not widely published this data, but I have cultivated several
> > species of fungi and truffles on forest lands. These include Oregon White
> > truffle (Tuber gibbosum Harkn.), Oregon Gray truffle (Tuber giganteum
> > Gilkey), Oregon Pallid truffle (Tuber murinum Hesse), California Black
> > truffle (Tuber californicum), Black morel (Morchella angusticeps),
> > Shiitake (Lentinulla edodes), Blewit (Lepista nuda), Shaggy Parasol
> > (Lepiota rhacoides), Orange Milkcap (Lactarius deliciosus), Amethyst
> > Laccaria (Laccaria amethystina-occidentalis), Common Laccaria (Laccaria
> > laccata), Cracked-Cap bolete (Boletus chrysenteron), Oregon Black truffle
> > (Leucangium carthusiana), and bunches of other fungi. I haven't figured
> > out why more people haven't tried to cultivate these.
> > For example, it was recently shown that a single .5 cm segment on rootlet
> > could host 7 different species of mycorrhizal fungus. And as partial
> > confirmation of that statement, today I collected Leucangium carthusiana
> > (Oregon Black truffle) and Tuber gibbosum Harkn. (Oregon White truffle)
> > with the same trees.
> > Since I have been more interested in cultivation than in marketing, I
> > have found that selling the product is far more difficult than actual
> > cultivation.
> Why is that? What type of markets are you trying to sell to? Sounds like
> a neet business.
I hope your question is what is marketing more difficult than
cultivation. The answer would be that Oregon White truffles do not have
the long culinary history of European truffles. This is not too
surprising. Many of these fungi have only recently been discovered. For
example, in the last 12 years I have collected at least 25 collections of
species novum, or species new to science.
The preferred markets would be better restaurants/delis/chefs/individuals
interested in widening their culinary horizons. While there is a
tremendous international market for French Black truffle (and appears to
be also for Oregon White truffles), it is first necessary to teach these
consumers about the product. Ergo my website.
The business is just getting established. I already have access to the
first inoculation site of native truffles that I am aware of. To date,
this 80-plus acre site has produced over 63 species of underground
mycorrhizal fungi. I have used the site to do experimentation with
inoculation, based on the same principal as agriculture. If I do not find
a truffle in a particular area, but find it after an attempted
inoculation, I presume inoculation has taken place. With thousands of
mycorrhizal fungi in the Pacific Northwest, it is always possible that
some fungi will suddenly appear without inoculation. In actuality what I
have observed is that truffles appear in quantity shortly after being
inoculated, provided the inoculation site is appropriate to the truffle.
Many truffles are species specific and are associated with specific
slopes, elevations, rainfall, soils, humus availability and age of host
plants. For example, I often find Rhizopogons with seedling Douglas fir
to about 8-12 years of age. Martellia brunnescens, Hymenogaster parksii,
Endogone lactiflua, and Barssia oregonensis are also found in these
younger stands of exposed trees. But after trees begin to form
full-canopy, the mycorrhizal fungi changes dramatically. Tubers begin to
appear, along with Melanogaster and different species of Rhizopogon.
Concurrently, most production of Martellia brunnescens, Hymenogaster
parksii, Endogone lactiflua and Barssia oregonensis disappears.
Other species of mycorrhizal fungi appear to remain with the trees
through this first transition stage: Laccaria laccata, Boletus zelleri
and B. chrysenteron are commonly found with both stages, as well as
Helvella lacunosa. I have also cultivated the first three of these fungi,
and am working on the fourth.
As a whole, the importance of mycorrhizal fungi to tree growers cannot be
underplayed. Trees without mycorrhizal fungi are easy to identify outside
of a greenhouse: they are dead.
This then is the importance of the Northern Spotted owl to forests: the
owls act as mycorrhizal fungi dispersants. The owls eat voles and flying
squirrels, which eat mostly truffles. The truffle spores pass through the
animals unharmed, and are excreted some distance away. In the case a
vole, several different species are introduced to a point several feet or
yards away. In the case of the owl, hundreds of species are introduced to
point up to 40 miles distant in a single day. While nearly all other
native species also disseminate truffle spores when available, the
Northern Spotted owl accomplishes that better than any other known animal
in old-growth forests. And unless cultivation of these fungi can be
effected quickly, many species of mycorrhizal fungi associated with
old-growth forests may reach extinction levels quickly. Read the above
It is possible to help tree farmers interested in growing faster trees:
inoculate with mycorrhizal fungi when planting. Trees so inoculated are
more likely to survive the stress of transplantation, and thus promote
tree survival. Many mycorrhizal fungi are also associated with
nitrogen-fixing bacteria, which are also beneficial to their host plants.
Perhaps the best way to ensure mycorrhizal fungi are present with newly
planted trees after harvest is to INSIST on planting with 3 months of
harvest. The mycorrhizal fungi quickly transfer to the new seedling trees
in these cases. But when reforestation is postponed for even 6 months,
many of these essential fungi will be lost. And the resulting stand of
trees will not grow as rapidly as they might otherwise.
Daniel B. Wheeler
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