Other Products for foresters

dwheeler at teleport.com dwheeler at teleport.com
Sat Dec 20 14:41:08 EST 1997

In this busy time of the year for Christmas tree growers, bough cutters,
and truffle gatherers, it is also appropriate to ask tree growers -- YOU
-- what other products you are harvesting from your land. These could be
boughs for wreaths; ferns and foliage for nurery and florist trade;
decorative cones, salal, huckleberry; leasing land for fungi harvesting;
leasing hunting and fishing rights, and probably a lot others I haven't
thought of. Taken individually, these may have +minor forest products+
value. But in many places I am convinced these so-called minor forest
products are more valuable than the timber value of their associate

One example is the value of matsutake mushrooms. While these fungi have
not been cultivated to my knowledge, I have attempted inoculation. The
mycelium grows very slowly, and requires specific ecological
requirements. However, it produces large, easy to identify,
highly-sought-after fungi which are producing a strong international
market. Usually this market goes exclusively to Japan. This year in
Oregon a bumper-crop resulted in relatively cheap matustake for local
consumption. Even so, while I was taking truffles for Express Mail to the
post office I often noticed shipments of matsutake being sent by Japanese
to relatives in Japan.

You may have commercial quantities of chanterelles on established timber
stands with either Douglas fir, Western hemlock, or Sitka spruce.

Truffles are yet another example. The demand for high-quality truffles
has in my opinion boomed during the last 2 years. I am actively seeking
places to lease which have proven truffle production at this time within
30 miles of Portland, Oregon. E-mail me for more information.

Other hypogeous fungi once thought to have no value may have considerable
value. For instance, I had thought there was little use for Rhizopogon
truffles. But then I had a visit from a mycologist who identified
Rhizopogon mycorrhizae being present with most feeder roots near where I
was harvesting truffles. This strongly suggests a natural succession in
forest mycorrhizae -- something which had been suggested before, but had
not been proven. The interesting thing about these Rhizopogons is that
they are, in general, easy to grow. As such they become important for
ectomycorrhizal inoculants for tree growers. These fungi provide a sort
of jump-start to seedling trees. As such, it is appropriate to point them
out here for tree farmers who are about to replace seedlings for recently
harvest trees. It is also important to tree farmers just starting a new
stand, and looking for ways to decrease tree fatality. By simply blending
a couple of Rhizopogons in a food processor until liquidy, then adding to
a five- gallon bucket of water, and dipping the roots of new seedling
trees in the water, it is possible to inoculate about 60% of trees with
these fungi on the first application. By reserving the water in the
bucket until a month after planting, then diluting in 10 gallons of
water, you have created a slurry which can be applied to the newly
planted trees two-more times by fine mist-spraying. I use a back-pack
sprayer, spraying a short half-second mist above each tree. This second
application should boost survival rate to at least 85%. By doing this
innoculation a third time at about 2 months from planting, tree survival
should be boosted to about 95%.

Rhizopogons that I have available are species specific to Douglas fir
(Pseudotsuga menziesii). I suspect that inoculation with Rhizopogons with
seedling trees is the important step leading to truffle inoculation at
about 5 years of age.

I also do truffle inoculation for local tree farmers, but this
inoculation is dependent upon finding one of four indicator species of
truffle already present. If one or more species is not present during
most of the year, I will not inoculate the site.

To date I have inoculated five sites, and am about to work on a sixth. Of
these, five have already shown an increase in truffle production and
growth rate, provided the trees were not already crowded.

The sole +failure+ is an attempt to grow Oregon Black truffle (Leucangium
carthusiana) in an area it shouldn't have been cultivated at in the first
place. This was more my lack of knowledge than the landowner's. However,
since this was a free inoculation, he wasn't out any money.

Send me an e-mail for more information on these fungi. Specify which
fungi you are interested in.

There are several books available also. To find more information on the
internet, try searching for the scientific name of each fungal species. A
listing of several hundred species is available at my website below. One
or more of these fungi will apply to most sites in the United States.

Daniel B. Wheeler

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