Importance of Mycorrhizae in Forestry

dwheeler at dwheeler at
Sat Dec 27 14:01:06 EST 1997

In article <34a56e6f.39616967 at>,
  williams at (Mycos) wrote:
> On Fri, 26 Dec 1997 03:49:47 GMT, punoczka at wrote:
> >dwheeler at wrote:
> >
> >(snip)
> >
> >>Clearly truffle cultivation has profound economic potential. Added to
> >>Maser's data suggests truffles could become an internationally important
> >>crop to the Pacific Northwest.
> >
> >Fascinating.
> >
> >However keep in mind that if supply increases faster than demand the
> >market price will come down to quite low levels.
> >Since the cost of entry to this type of truffle-growing is fairly low
> >and many people can get into it there will eventually be
> >overproduction with low prices.
> >
> Not so fast. The Japanese have been attempting to grow Matsutake
> (Tricholoma magnivalare)  artificially with very limited success.

I'm not sure the Japanese have tried to _grow_ T. magnivalare. Certainly
they are capable of monitoring the outward of growth of the mycelium.

> Dr.s' Ogawa and Hosford have looked at methods of growing these
> mycorrhizal fungi by enhancing their  growth field conditions with
> some success but they are still limited to using the outdoor
> environment where the association with the trees can be maintained.

Hmmm. Wonder why that is?

> The association with 2nd to old growth trees is still critical and of
> course strongly deters any attempts to grow Matsutake indoors. The
> attempt would of course be humorous.

It's odd how very few old-growth forests are located under glass.

>  Perhaps your not familiar with the prices the Japanese pay for these
> things. They rival truffles for value on a weight basis and Japan
> imports hundreds of tons a year. The price paid to the harvesters here
> in the PNW is usually between 20 and 30 dollars a pound but has gone
> up over a $100. This is to the local pickers ! Add to that the margin
> the buyer , processor, exporter here and then the profit the
> wholesaler and retailer in Japan take and you begin to get an idea of
> their retail value over there. (Believe itor not, they have erected a
> shrine dedicated to this "lowly fungus").

It sounds to me as if the Japanese have learned to supply a demand. BTW,
the price reached $750 per pound for a few hours on the morning of Oct.
12, 1994, according to John Hinds, a mushroom buyer.

> You mention cultivated mushrooms below. Button mushrooms (Agaricus
> bisporus) are saprophytes, which means they will grow with dead
> organic matter as their nutrient source which makes indoor growth
> feasible. Again, Matsutake wil not so the argument of an assembly
> line- like production method isn't forseeable any time soon.

Nor was that my intent. I'm not sure what addition of large amounts of
urea found in coprophytic material would be, but I suspect it would cause
total disassociation with all mycorrhizal fungi for a year. The tree
might die from stress shortly after. Once fertilizing starts, it has to
be maintained. The mycorrhizal fungi are not necessary if the host tree
is getting the nutrients from another source. The term is called
_obligate mycorrhizae_. The truffle has to have the tree or other host to
survive. But the plant does not _have_ to have the truffle. At least in
the short run.

> >You might consider what happened to the ginseng industry
> >and what is happening to the ratite industry (emus and ostriches)
> >along with red deer, llamas and alpacas, and other sure-fire
> >get-rich-quick ideas.
> >
> >This type of production seems to be very seasonal in nature.
> >What the market wants is a steady supply of fresh truffles each day.
> >Thus in the long run the real winners will be those growers who can
> >perfect methods for culturing truffles indoors (under glass or in
> >tunnels) on a steady schedule as is done with regular cultivated
> >mushrooms.
> >
> Chanterelles (Cantherellus cibarius) have the same market source i.e
> western europeans, and we still send them hundreds of tons every year.
> Seasonally yes, but regardless they still keep buying them.
> >The first few entrants into any new type of business always do best
> >but most of  those who follow later will lose out.
> >
> The wild mushroom industry isn't a new business. The truffle technique
> spoken of here is but the industry as a whole is alive and well and
> has been for quite sometime. You should look into it. Here in B.C. the
> industry is almost completely unregulated and has a distinct
> "goldrush" mentality surrounding it. All transactions are done in cash
> with no record of it kept ( Durn' revenuers ! ), secrecy  as to
> picking locations is sacrosanct, ect. The mushroom buying stations
> have for this reason many thousands of dollars cash on them at any
> given time, therefore you know there's gotta be a 12 gauge under the
> counter.
> >If you think that you see gold it is most likely fool's gold.
> >
> >Most people would be better off to plant a hundred acres
> >of high-value mixed hardwoods and softwoods
> >and to manage this quite intensively to start generating
> >a steady income in about 30 years.
> >This will not yield a big sudden pay-off but it will make a nice safe
> >pension plan for your old age and provide a fair amount
> >of quiet pleasure in the meantime.
> >
> At least here in B.C. , areas have been set aside as mushroom
> harvesting areas. The  legal challenge was to prove that the forested
> areas that are producing these Matsutake would in the long run prove
> more valuable than the one-time timber harvest. That challenge was
> obviously met.

And the scarely thing is that so-called foresters are missing the highest
value for the trees. There's a saying in there somewhere...

Daniel B. Wheeler

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