Non timber forest products

Larry Caldwell larryc at
Sat Feb 8 00:20:06 EST 1997

In article <32F8C7EC.797E at>,
Don Staples <dstaples at> wrote:

> Joseph Zorzin wrote:  In response to Ron W.

> > But, realistically these alternative income sources are only going to
> > work if the landowner is willing to invest his time to do the work. I
> > don't think I could harvest enough mushrooms or herbs at my outrageous
> > hourly fee to make any profit for the landowner. Most of my clients
> > couldn't care less about doing this work. They retain me since in my
> > state (Mass.)I can get their property tax reduced by 95% and make them a
> > substantial profit from timber sales. Mushroom and herbs just don't get
> > factored in.

I think perhaps you are getting suckered into the mechanized agriculture/
high input system of agriculture.  If you are doing any work on this,
you are going about it all wrong.  Mycorrhizcal species grow in association
with the tree, and enhance tree growth enough that the innoculation 
process (cheap at planting) should pay for itself many times over.  After
that, no additional work is required, except for picking.  Pickers can
be paid by the pound, or charged a fee for entry.  Also, you can act
as exclusive buyer on your own property, and simply act as the broker.

In this area, most landowners license pickers, though smaller tract owners
sometimes deliver mushrooms to produce markets.  Supermarkets in this area
commonly sell chanterelles in the fall and morels in the spring with good
consumer acceptance.  Average price to the consumer is around $10/lb.

Higher value mushrooms, like white truffles, are sold through the express
mailorder market, and bring around $130/lb.  I've been trying to get some 
of the people involved in that market to post here.  Boletus Edulis, 
mycorrhizal with pines, is commonly dried and exported to Europe.  The last
market quote I saw on dried B. Edulis was around $70/lb, though of course
there's a lot of weight loss in the drying process.

> There is also the problem of having a market for the product.  Texas has made an effort 
> to use one of our trash trees for a source bed for the shitake mushroom. We have a 
> rudimentary industry now, but the market has not developed as expected.  We have a 

Shiitake are grown here too, using chips, cereals, or bolts of white oak as
a substrate.  It seems like a lot of work for a mushroom, if you know what
I mean.  Even so, all food stores, even the local mom and pop markets around
here, carry shiitakes in the produce section right along side the agaricus
bisporus.  Is your problem the lack of a local wholesale produce market,
or lack of consumer acceptance?  I know that mushroom consumption is very
much a cultural thing, and people only eat mushrooms if their grandparents
did.  I would think by now Texas would be cosmopolitan enough to support
a good sized fresh mushroom market.  Is competition from Mexico a problem?

> US forestry has not developed to the point of European usage of total production per 
> acre.  We have been blessed with abundance, and have squandered parts of the resource.  
> Some or our brothern have been managing for an ecological system for years, others the 
> pine plantation, and it is the market forces that prevent total utilization.  Hell, we 
> can't move top wood in Texas, too labor intensive, too low a value and a marginal 
> product.  

The pulp market has been pretty depressed this year.  Nobody around here has
been able to peddle any junk trees either, the mills just don't want them.
Summer before last, they were paying $30/ton for oak and madrone, enough 
to make land clearing a break-even proposition.  The local white oak isn't
worth much as lumber, since it stains easily.  A local cooperage has 
started to ship 10,000 barrel lots to France, though.  It seems our white
oak is comparable to the European white oak for wine barrels.  It's a niche
market, but they've got a mill going with 90 employees.

-- Larry

> When the demand is created, we'll grown what is necessary to fill the demand.  
> Meanwhile, some of us work to keep our little portion of the world as wild as possible. 
> Occasionally we are successful.

More information about the Ag-forst mailing list