Forest mycology

Larry Caldwell larryc at teleport.com
Thu Nov 20 13:01:31 EST 1997


In article <Pine.WNT.3.96.971119182319.-107389F-100000 at ssc4.bangor.ac.uk>,
"M.A.H.Askey" <afu104 at bangor.ac.uk> wrote:
 
> Presently preparing a dissertation on the `Viability of edible mushroom
> cultivation in British forests`and would like to hear the views of the
> readers.

I know nothing about British forests, but my area of the Pacific Northwest
of North America has a very similar climate.  I've been experimenting
with mushroom cultivation for over 20 years, with varied results.  The
edible mycorrhizal mushroom production of many PNW forests exceeds the 
value of the timber harvest from that land, and is a more-or-less 
sustained harvest.  I say more-or-less because any naturally grown crop
is subject to large variation in crop size.

The primary mycorrhizal cash crops in the PNW are cantharellus cibarius,
associated with Douglas Fir, and boletus edulis, associated with pines.
Last year I experimented with dip innoculating douglas fir seedlings 
with truffle species.  Actually a number of tuber species, which if
I manage to get a crop could be very lucrative.  Truffles sell for over
$100 a pound, if you can find them.

Large cash crops of saprophytes are also harvested of morchella esculenta,
which fruits heavily in burned over areas, and armillaria ponderosa which
fruits well along the coast and commands a premium price in the oriental 
food market.

Wood products, both hardwood chips and bolts of oak can be used as a
commercial substrate for production of lentinus edodes and pleurotus
ostreatus or pleurotus porrigens.  These species are cultured in 
commercial quantities here, and can be found in all the larger markets.

This part of the world has an abundance of edible mushroom species, 
because of the north-south orientation of the mountain ranges.  When 
the glaciers advanced during the last ice age, the flora just moved
south, then back north again as the ice retreated.  This resulted in
minimal species loss, and a wealth of edible fungi.  In Europe the
flora was crowded up against east-west mountains, and in many cases
was wiped out by the ice.

I know that Britain has been experimenting with imported tree species,
and it would only seem sensible to maximize the return on the land
by importing the associated mycorrhizae.  A good fungal association 
will also remarkably improve tree vigor and productivity.  In my
experience, fungus cultivation seems mysterious but is in fact 
astonishingly simple.  The simplest way to succeed is to either culture
or dig up some spawn, divide it finely, and spread it around where it
needs to go.

dwheeler at teleport.com (Daniel Wheeler) is a commercial supplier of 
truffle innoculant, and has several years experience in the practice
of culturing mycorrhizae.  I think his web page is :

http://www.teleport.com/~dwheeler/

If that doesn't work, try emailing him directly.  I just quoted his URL
from memory.

-- Larry
   Myrtle Creek, Oregon USA



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