Economic Forest Fungi '98

dwheeler at dwheeler at
Fri Nov 27 02:55:25 EST 1998

The following article has been slightly revised for 1998. The original was
presented at the 1994 Clackamas County Farm Forestry Association Tree School.
The article is copywritten.

				   c. 1998 By Dan Wheeler
		Address to Clackamas County Farm Forestry Association

	Good morning and welcome. I’m Dan Wheeler.	I’m current president
of the North American Truffling Society, a non-profit organization that
identifies, collects and preserves true and false truffles, and truffle-like
fungi.	     All fungi are important to tree farmers. Growing trees require
fungi to survive. Kill symbiotic fungi and you kill host trees. Kill trees
and you kill symbiotic fungi.	      Fungi represent 52-55% of the total
living cells. called biomass, of both tree farm and forest. Trees constitute
30-35% of biomass.     In biology you may have learned fungi spread by
airborne spores. If that were true, everyone could easily grow fungi. And
desserts would not exist.     Fewer than 100 mushroom species have ever been
cultivated. The Pacific Northwest alone has at least 8,000 fungal species.   
   This is why forests are in conflict today. Foresters by definition grow
trees. Fungi are not trees. Thus foresters manage at best 30-35% of forest
biomass.     There are at least five essentials to growing trees: AIR, WATER,
SOIL, LIGHT, MYCORRHIZAL FUNGI.        The only Northwest tree which does not
require symbiotic fungi to survive is Western Redcedar.  Fungi are essential
to grow most trees, and nearly all plants.  During the past 3,000 years,
history has documented the decline of forests and a corresponding increase in
desserts. In his book Tree Crops, J. Russell Smith, an economist, notes
modern agriculture is a case of “First the saw, then fire, then the plow.
Finally move on when the soil is lost.”    Remember the five essentials to
grow trees? What happens when soil is gone? Dessert.	Remember how many
fungi are found in the Northwest? That number may be 80%, 60%, 40%, or 20% of
the actual number. No one really knows. 	Dr. William Dennison,
president of the Oregon Small Woodlands Association, found 60 species of
fungi growing inside Douglas fir needles. He explained these fungi cause the
needles to become stiff.    The fungal-tree connection is similar to the
oldest known terrestrial plants -- lichens. Lichens are algae and fungi. The
fungi provide algae with water and nutrients. The algae provide fungi with
simple sugars from photosynthesis. Kill the algae and the fungi die. Kill the
fungi and the algae die. This relationship is called symbiosis. Symbiotic
fungi help plants grow. When they are associated with roots, they are termed
mycorrhizae, literally fungus root.   Not all fungi are symbiotic. Some are
saprophytes. Saprophytes survive by eating wood, leaves, twigs, cones or
other dead and dying vegetable and animal matter. Saprophytic fungi are
essential to life on Earth as we know it. Orson K. Miller of Virginia
Polytechnic once hypothesized a world without saprophytic fungi. Try to
imagine all land covered 65 feet deep by wood, leaves, organic debris and
excrement.	 The third and last group of fungi are parasites. Parasites
are usually considered harmful. But harmful is dependent on what is grown.
Phellinus weirii or root rot is harmful to conifers. Bacillus thurengensis is
a bacteria harmful to Gypsy moths. Both are parasites. Are both harmful to
tree growers?	 If fungi are important to trees, how should they be managed?
There is insufficient data.	   Can fungi be cultivated, and if so how?
About 100 species have been grown to date in the world. Paul Stamets of Fungi
Perfecti in Olympia, Washington offers a course on cultivation for only $500.
You provide your own meals, room and transportation. This "short course"
lasts two weeks.   What other fungal properties are there? Medicinal, food,
insecticides, soil builders, pathogenic fungal fighters are just some.	     
 This class can’t and won’t answer all your questions. At best it may
stimulate the formation of your questions. it will be your responsibility to
research and find answers.    Remember this: all forestry management
practices - from cutting branches to killing trees to planting trees - affect
fungi. Some management practices produce healthy tree stands. Others ensure
tree death. One thing is clear: if you don’t manage fungi, fungi will manage
you.	  Fungal managers must first learn fungal identification. Growing or
selling wrong fungi may kill. Some fungal toxins are as potent as cobra
venom. Others are known as health-aids: streptomyacin, myliacin, tetracyclin,
 cyclosporin, and others.      New plant species continue to be found. This
doesn’t prevent growing or cultivating some species. Similarly, it is better
to grow fungi than not.       This class is my best guess where fungi are
headed.     Let me read you an article by Jeff Barnard from the Jan. 4, 1994
Oregonian. (INSERT ARTICLE)    The following is from the Feb. 1, 1993 Oregon
Grange Bulletin, page 11 (READ ARTICLE).  Mushroom picking on federal land
has a limited future, I believe. Mushroom harvesting is now big business. The
BLM and Forest Service are being forced to deal with the issues of fungal
permits, citations, identification, safety, and management. Current citations
are laughable, compared to what pickers can expect to make.	 I believe
the value of mushrooms on private timberland and tree farms can be more
valuable than trees. If proven, such value will give tree growers tremendous
income. That income would be necessary for fungal management and prevention
of mushroom rustling.	     Fungal management and cultivation may create
many high-paying jobs. These will be in mycology, research, medicine,
harvesting, forest management, wildlife management, marketing,
transportation, packaging and advertising. Othe rjobs will be created which
don’t even have names today. Fungal marketing provides a whole forest of
additional products - many not known today.	 Let’s examine 24
possibilities now. They are listed on the handout you received when entering.
 The first 10 examples are symbiotic fungi. These fungi require trees to
exist.	In 1986 a Vancouver, B.C. mushroom picker gathered 230 pounds of
matsutake in one day, and was paid $10 per pound. In 1992 pickers receive
$6-$40 per pound, and at least one picker received $100 per pound. On October
11, 1993 matsutake reached $600 per pound.     You may have recently read of
a timber sale appeal near Crater Lake. The Oregon Natural Resources Council
and a member of the Oregon Mycological Society brought the suit, contending
the matsutake harvest from the site is more valuable than the poor quality
Lodgepole pine scheduled for removal. Last year matsutake generated $20
million in Oregon. The proposed sale is reportedly in the middle of a
lucrative matsutake bed.	 I found matsutake once, in July, 1979.
Although it was summer, the five-acre parcel showed more mushrooms than
grass. I could have picked several hundred pounds that day.	 Matsutake is
usually found with Douglas fir, Ponderosa pine or Lodgepole pine in sandy
soils. The eruption of Mt. St. Helens in 1980 may be a blessing for matsutake
hunters 20 years from now.	   The next mushroom is the most expensive
fungus on Earth today. The Italian White truffle is associated with European
hazel, Ilex oak, European willow and a few other tree species. It has not
been reported from the U.S. One monster weighed 2.2 lbs. Had that specimen
been found in Feb., 1991 it would have sold for at least $3,000.      The
third fungus is esoteric. At the turn of the century, the French brought
French black truffles to market in wheelbarrows. During the 1930s this
truffle was cheaper than potatoes. In 1990 France produced 60,000 pounds of
truffles. In 1992 production dropped to 4,000 pounds.	Over half the current
world supply of French Black truffles are produced in Northern Spain on a
single 1700-acre plantation less than 7 years old. Each 8- foot hazel is
planted 20 feet apart. Truffle production requires at least 3-4 years from
inoculation. Both French Black and Italian White truffles are found in
calcareous soil. This soil is so poor and rocky that the Spanish government
said nothing would grow there. Truffles are found by specially-trained dogs.
Truffles may be half an inch to 3 feet deep.	    The French black truffle
averages one-half to 1 ounce in size, comparable to the Oregon White truffle.
 Oregon’s claim to culinary fame is the Oregon White truffle, or Tuber
gibbosum. It was first discovered in a mixed Douglas fir-oak stand in
California during the 1800s. It is now considered species specific with
Douglas fir - that means only with Douglas fir. It now sells for $200 per
pound, down from $400 per pound in 1984.  Recent analysis of truffles shows
they contain two peromones - androsterol and androstenol. Pheromones are
chemical sex attractants. They are sometimes called aphrodisiacs. Over 60
species of Northwest animals eat truffles. Dr. James Trappe has noted Mule
deer eat truffles almost exclusively during October and November, by
analyzing fecal pellets. The onset of rut and truffle eating may not be
coincidence.	   Animals are essential to truffles and false truffles. When
spores mature, the truffle releases a powerful aroma which attracts animals
to dig and eat them. The spores disperse through the gut, and are gradually
expelled, up to a month after ingestion.     The most prolific truffle eater
is the California Red-backed vole. Voles eat their weight in truffles each
day. A mature vole requires at least 16 pounds of truffles to survive each
year. Voles produce 300 fecal pellets each day. Each pellet can inoculate a
new tree. According to Chris Maser, a small mammal specialist, the California
Red-backed vole is the most common mammal of forests west of the Cascade
Mountains.     If there are 100 voles per acre, then an acre must produce
1600 pounds of truffles and false truffles to feed the vole population. No
one knows how many voles exist per acre.  I first hunted truffles at Paul
Bishop’s Jones Creek Tree Farm in November, 1985. The farm is three miles
from here, and is our destination this afternoon. The farm produced about 100
pounds of true and mostly false truffles per acre in 1985. At that time, the
trees were 5 to 8 feet tall.	   Beginning in 1986, I began cultivation or
enhancement studies here. In 1988 and 1989, almost every tree inoculated had
truffles. By 1990 these areas produced between 300 and 1300 pounds of Tuber
species per acre per year. This amounts of $60,000 to $260,000 per acre of
fungi annually.   One benefit of truffles is their effect on root rots. Dr.
Trappe notes that truffle and false truffles association decreased root rots.
It is presumed that truffles act as fungal prophylactics to root rots. This
hypothesis has not been proven.     The fifth fungus is an example of
hundreds of unnamed fungi. In May, 1992 Dr. Trappe indicated that the “Spring
gibbosum” was in fact a separate, distinct species. This new species
typically fruits in the spring, is relatively large, and has a different
interior color from Oregon White truffles. It appears to fruit in quantities
as great or greater than the Oregon White truffle, at least on Paul Bishop’s.
Very little data has been collected to date. Positive identification requires
a scanning electron microscope.  The most economically important wild
mushroom in the Pacific Northwest is Cantharellus cibarius, the Golden
Chanterelle. Chanterelles prefer mid- or old- growth tree stands locally.
However on the cost chanterelles have been found 10 years after clearcuts.
Northwest chanterelles are preferred by cooks because they have few worms.
Our chanterelles also tend to be larger than elsewhere. Washington
chanterelles may weigh 2 pounds each. Average weight is 2 to 6 ounces. A
commercial picker may cover 2 acres a day, and collect 300 pounds. That
translates to 150 pounds per acre, for a retail value of $1200 per acre per
year.	    As tree species replace each other leading to a climax forest
there is also a succession of fungi with individual trees. Abundant
chanterelles often mean few truffles. Removal of more than 5% of biomass at
any time adversely affects chanterelle production. The current annual value
of chanterelles is so great, it seems reasonable that ecological requirements
of chanterelles should be learned. That basic research has yet to be done.   
  Since 1890, European studies indicate chanterelles are in decline. No one
knows why, although acid rain is strongly suspected.  I have seen false
truffles associate with seedling trees, followed by true truffles when full
canopy is reached. True truffles remain for about 50 years before being
replaced by chanterelles.	  The sale of chanterelles overseas without
additional processing is like buying Douglas fir lumber from Japan. Both are
resource drains and continue to trade deficit. Chanterelles are now bought
from pickers at $1-$4 per pound, packed in brine in 50-gallon barrels and
shipped to Germany. In Germany the mushrooms are canned, and resold to the
United States at $16 per pound. Why are American canneries not canning
chanterelles?	  During the Winter Olympics at Sarajevo, some sportscasters
mentioned our next fungus. One said porcini mushrooms were selling for $40
per pound. Porcini is Italian for “little pig.” These fungi may well have
been harvested in Oregon or Washington. The King bolete, as porcini is called
locally, is well-known. There are two flushes or fruitings each year in
Oregon: one in spring, one in late summer or fall.	  Pickers find up to
250 pounds per day. They receive $1-$5 per pound, which equals $125 to $1875
per acre per flush.	The King bolete is world-renowned. It is also called
Penny-bun bolete, ceps and Steinpiltz. Cut the King into 1/4-inch slices, and
dry for future use. I’m hard pressed to sell this mushroom. I like it too
much. It is high in protein, contains no fat and is immuno-activating.	   At
the 1992 Lincoln County Mycological Show I was asked to identify three of the
prettiest King boletes I’ve seen. I said sure, if I get the mushrooms. He
agreed. The man estimated he had another 40 mushrooms in various stages of
maturity littering his front lawn. Why is it always someone else’s lawn?  I
told him Salishan Lodge might buy them for $10 per pound. I think he agreed
the cost of identification was worth the price.   A single King bolete may
produce 40 million spores. I believe it could be cultivated in stands of
Ponderosa pine in Central and Eastern Oregon, and in Lodgepole pine or Sitka
spruce stands of coastal Oregon.	 The Queen bolete may be found in
similar conditions. While it can be found at almost any elevation, it is more
abundant on the cost. Expect $1-$10 per pound for the Queen. It is usually
1/2 to 1 pound in size.       The next fungus is deadly poisonous. Amanita
virosa is a beautiful white to pale green mushroom. It is seldom larger than
1/4 pound and 6 inches high. Locally it is symbiotic with chestnut tres. For
that reason it is important, as we will learn when discussing shiitake. 
Again, Amanita virosa is deadly. But is also contains muscimol, a pain-
killer	as potent as morphine but non-addictive.	Muscimol may make
Amanita virosa economic. A single mushroom can treat a cancer patient’s pain
for several hours. Unlike Amanita virosa, muscimol is safe and non-addictive.
   Armillariella mellea is known as Honey mushroom, after the color of the
cap. It is also called Shoestring Root Rot. It’s one of the most abundant
fungi in the Northwest today. I believe that is because clearcutting favors
root-rot growth.  The Honey is found on soil in mycorrhizal symbiosis with
hardwoods, or can be saprophytic on Bigleaf maple, Red alder, Oregon White
oak, Lodgepole pine, Douglas fir, Western hemlock, cottonwoods, willows, true
fir logs and snags. For unknown reasons this mushroom complex of several
varieties can be either symbiotic, parasitic or saprophytic. During the Gypsy
moth outbreak on the east coast several years ago, the Honey attacked
weakened trees, resulting in a profussion of mushrooms a year after.	
Shoestring root rot derives from the strong root-like strands of fungal
threads, called rhizomorphs, found beneath the bark of infected trees.	The
Honey is closely related to the next mushroom. It’s officially the largest
known organism on Earth today. You may have already heard of the Humongous
Fungus or Monster Mushroom, as Armilariella ostoyae is now known. Mycologists
theorized this was true for many years, but it required DNA testing to prove.
The first was a Michigan fungus that covered 36 acres. It was quickly
eclipsed by a Moses Lake, Washington fungus 2.5 miles in diameter. A Crater
Lake specimen is now being tested with a radius of 15 miles. This fungus has
only recently been identified. We don’t know if it is Shoestring Root Rot or
not. Let us hope not.	      The remaining fungi are saprophytes.
Saprophytic fungi live by degrading stored energy in cellulose,
hemicellulose, and lignin - better known as trees. Some fungi are
generalists. They’ll eat anything. Other fungi eat specific wood parts. Some
eat roots. Some cones. Some bark. Some needles. Some parasitize living
needles, then produce insecticidal mycotoxins. Still other fungi grow on only
certain species of wood.       Regardless of tree size, the cambium is eaten
within a year of tree death. Parasitic insects such as bark and ambrosia
beetles, carry fungal spores with them. They eat the growing fungus and
degraded wood. These insects also like the cambium layer.	 One
spectacular old-growth fungus is the True Fir Hericium, sometimes called the
Waterfall Hydnum. This photogenic fungi may form a mass 5 feet across,
several feet high and deep. A single specimen may reach 100 pounds. Five to
ten pound specimens are more common. As it’s name implies, it prefers true
firs, and likes downed logs. Search for this fungi among Noble, Pacific
Silver and White firs.	 It’s relative, Hericium erinaceous, has strong
possibilities for cultivation. Rock Hill Shiitake of Lebanon has been selling
200 lbs. per week in California for the past two years at $4 per pound.
Hericium erinaceous is marketed under the name Pom Pom, but is also called
Lion’s Head, Goat’s Beard, and Bear’s Head. The Chinese call it White Ghost’s
Breath, and use it as a medicinal herb. It is strongly suspected of being
immuno-activating. A few years ago, my legs would suddenly go asleep.
Sometimes while I was walking. Not every day nor every step, but it became so
frequent I was cautious of where I walked and what I did. Within a week of
eating Hericium erinaceous for the first time, this symptom stopped as
abruptly as it began.	  A third, the Coral hericium, likes Douglas fir,
Western hemlock and perhaps true firs. It is massive also, reaching 50
pounds.  I assume most of you have already heard of shiitake, or Lentinus
edodes. But the Northwest has a relative of shiitake, called Train Wrecker,
for its affinity to eating “preserved” railroad ties. Train Wrecker forms
huge mushrooms with a diameter of 20 inches or more. It fruits during summer
and early fall in Central Oregon. I believe I saw it once, about 50 feet high
in a standing snag near Detroit, Oregon. Southeast Asians are fond of its
flavor when fresh. This indicates another market, similar to matsutake.    
As for shiitake, it means literally “mushroom of the shiia tree.” But what is
the shiia tree? Chinese chestnut. Chestnuts are oaks that resemble our native
chinquapin. Other tree species for growing shiitake include white oaks,
maple, Red alder, birch and hickory. Maple is used mostly for sawdust
cultivation.  The preferred shiitake bed log is 2-8 inches in diameter, lacks
side branches, and is nearly straight. Any length log can be used if
inoculated where it falls. Selection is a function of weight.	   A 4-foot,
8-inch diameter fresh-cut oak log weighs about 120 pounds. Larger diameter
logs are difficult to inoculated quickly. Shiitake will also spread to
untreated Douglas fir lumber and conifer lathes. But I know of no fruitings
on this substrate.	Most of the world’s shiitake is produced on sterlized
sawdust-bran blocks, like this. This block conains about 1 cent  worth of
sawdust. It will produce about $10 worth of mushrooms. This block is in its
first flush. It may produce another six or seven over the next six months.
The remaining materials make wonderful soil enhancer.	 Modern tree farms
are orchards.Their abundant single-species biomass attracts parasites.
Multi-species orchards provide diversity and decrease parasites. Diversity
also multiples the number of marketable crops.	    Consider the following
plantation plan. It includes a ratio of 1 Douglas fir to 2 Red alder to 1
chestnut. The Red alder buffers both fir and chestnut. All three trees are
associated with trufles and false truffles. All grow rapidly with each other.
All have lumber potential. All grow up to 8 feet per year. Red alder grows
fastest, and increases the growth of nearby Douglas fir. At 4 to 10 inches
diameter, Red alder can be thinned or culled for shiitake production. A cord
of Red alder produces about 3,000 pounds of shiitake worth $4 per pound
locally. Chestnut is more valuable than Douglas fir for lumber. It produces
clear hardwood which is resistant to most fungi. Once cut, chestnut
regenerates from stumps. Chestnuts over 1,000 years old are known. The
Japanese harvest shiitake logs from shiia plantations every 8 years, but
seldom need to reforest.   J. Russell Smith in Tree Crops notes chestnuts
produce more food value than a similar acreage of corn. And chestnuts like
rocky, pool soil. Deer, turkey, bear, pigs and cattle eat chestnuts; along
with squirrels, mice, goats and large birds like crows.    Grown on Oregon
White oak and chestnut, shiitake produces around $12,000 per cord with
shiitake at $4 per pound.	 Maybe forestry for lumber alone is
economically flawed. The above data offers food for thought, at least.	    
According to work in progress, at least 5% of biomass needs to remain on the
ground as woody debris more than 3 inches in diameter. This material could
grow the next mushroom,  Laetiporus sulphureus, or Chicken of the Woods. The
mushroom was featured in Kevin Costner’s Robin Hood, growing on old-growth
beech. Chicken of the Woods likes oak, maple, and is especially fond of Sitka
spruce, Douglas fir and Western hemlock here. The young growing tips are
similar to chicken nuggets when slow-cooked in a crock pot. It fruits in late
summer.    Chicken of the Woods can be utilized to control root rots. How?
Root rots are adapted to slow, constant 55-degree in-soil growth. Almost any
sparophytic fungi outgrows them. Growing Chicken of the Woods serves three
purposes. It rejects root rot on stumps. It rots stumps faster. Farmers can
harvest clumps of a mushroom up to 50 pounds apiece worth $4 per pound
retail.      The same method can be used with Grifola frondosa, Hen of the
Woods, in hardwood stands; or Sparassis radicata, the Cauliflower mushroom,
in conifer stands.    Hen of the Woods weighs up to 60 pounds, and has been
shown to reduce serum cholesterol levels. Recent data indicates Hen of the
Woods is also effective against HIV in vitro. However, more testing needs to
be done before it can be deemed an effective treatment.   An elk hunter in
1983 found an 86 pound Cauliflower msuhroom, along with 4 others weighing 20
pounds apiece. He sold them for $6 per pound. He didn’t get an elk, but he
did bag $960 bucks - not a bad day’s work in 1983.     Morels are a real
Cinderella story. Do you want to hear a fairy tale, boys and girls? Once upon
a time there was a young out-of-state college student. He found a morel
patch. There were morels as far as the eye could see.  (Okay, he was myopic.)
The struggling student knew in Minnesota, people would pay $16 a pound of
rmorels, at least that’s what the newspaper article said.	So the
student took a leave of absence, rented a refrigerated U-Haul truck, and
picked morels. He picked and he picked. And picked some more. And when he was
done he sold and sold. And sold some more. And he cleared enough money to go
to college for 3 years. Unlike Cinderella, this is a true story.    
Mushroom, the Journal reported two patents have been granted for morel
cultivation in the last five years. Neither infringes on your right to
cultivate your own morels.	  Morels are considered devastation
mushrooms. They are common in clearcuts, after forest fires, landslides and
eruptions. Morels were the first life form seen after Mt. St. Helens erupted.
Within days.	    Earlier this month I talked to Mike McCrystal of Falls
City. He told me that several friends picked morels last year near
Enterprise. In one day this group collected 2200 pounds of morels. They sold
them to a mushroom broker the day after for $10,000 cash.	 Oregon has
at least three species of morels. One is found under conifers, especially
Douglas fir. Another prefers oaks. The third is associated with cottonwoods
and willow. This is good news if you own a hybrid cottonwood stand.    In the
laboratory, morel mycelium grows faster than most other fungi. It can cross a
petri dish in 3 days. Two years ago I inoculated a chipped debris trail with
morels. Last March I harvested the first crop - 17 morels weighing about 1.5
pounds.  Oyster mushrooms are non-specific saprophytes. They are found on
cottonwood and other hardwood trees. To degrade hardwood stumps rapidly,
spread oyster spawn on the cut stump. Cover with fresh newspaper, then a
layer of plastic. Tie down. Wait two months then remove the plastic.	    
Your first crop should fruit within a year.	Oyster mushrooms have a
drawback. Oyster mushrooms can grow on your lungs. If you must grow it,
cultivate it in well-ventilated areas or outside. Oyster mushrooms sell for
$5 to $10 per pound, meaning $1.25 to $2.50 to the grower. Expect one pound
of mushrooms for every dry pound of wood or other substrate. This fungus can
turn straw into a choice, easily digestible fodder for cattle, chickens,
pigs, sheep and horses. According to Paul Stamets, calves prefer it to
alfalfa hay.	   At $400 per dried pound, Ganoderma lucidum or Ling Zhi has
potential. This is an ancient medicinal, used by Chinese for at least 2300
years. It has been shown to be an immuno-activator, meaning it stimulates
your body’s production of interferon. A January 14, 1993 Newsweek article
claimed 50 Africans has been cured of AIDS after taking minescule doses of
interferon.	   Two scientific papers have been done on AIDS and
interferon in the US. The first indicated interferon had no effect on the
AIDS virus. The second was more specific. It shows that although interferon
didn’t kill the virus, the virus didn’t replicate when interferon was
present.   Chinese doctors often prescribe Ling Zhi. Although it may not
help, it never harms. Unlike Oyster mushroom spores which die at about 101
degrees F., Ling Zhi spores die around 89 degrees F.   Three species of
Ganoderma are found in the U.S. Two are common in Oregon and Washington. I
have grown both. I strongly suspect, and David Aurora agrees, that Ganoderma
lucidum and our native Ganodermas are actually the same fungus growing on
different substrates in different climates.  Grow your own Ling Zhi from
Fungi Perfecti of Olympia, WA. for about $30. You can purchase Ling Zhi from
the same source. Or your can collect it wild from August to November on
Douglas fir and Western hemlock stumps. It is sometimes is called the Shellac
Shelf for the shiny red to maroon surface of the fungus.	 Blewitt,
Washington is one of the few towns named for a mushroom. The Blewit is a
conifer needle, twig and straw degrader. Prolific, it is relatively easy to
identify and can be sold for about $4 per pound. It fruits from late autumn
to early spring. I’ve grown it on both straw and Douglas fir needles.	     
The last fungi is Stropharia rugosa-annulata, aka Giant Stropharia, aka
Gartenreisse, aka Wine-Cap Stropharia. It doens’t last long, becomes wormy
rapidly, and may die if temperatures drop to 20 degrees F.   Against that, it
is large, flavorful and easy to cultivate on hardwood chips. It is especially
fond of Red alder. Try selling it to specialty markets and restaurants for
around $6 per pound. Since it fruits during the summer, it is not in
competition with almost any other mushroom. It likes to have chip beds
covered with about 6 inches of soil, making it attractive for raised-bed
gardeners.	 Although every tree farmer is a mushroom grower, not
everyone is successful at etiher or both. When the Northwest Shiitake
Association formed in 1987, about 200 people tried growing shiitake. Of this
number, perhaps 20 were successful. Production of any fungi requires careful
planning and marketing strategies.	   To learn more about shiitake, join
the Northwest Shiitake Association. Also buy and read Gorwing Shiitake by
Paul Przybilowitcz, and The Mushroom Cultivator by Stamets and Chilton.   
Need to learn more about fungi? Read every mushroom book you can find.
Memorize scientific names. Join the Oregon Mycological Society, the Mid-
Willamette Mycological Society in Salem, or the Lincoln County Mycological
Society in Lincoln City. Spend time with mushroom growers. Visit farms such
as Rock Hill in Lebanon. Learn how to recognize fungi. Get involved.
Subscribe the Mushroom the Journal. David Aurora’s Mushrooms Demystified  and
All The Rain Promises are excellent resources.	      To learn more about
truffles, join the North American Truffling Society. Attend the monthly
forages. Send in collections. Flyers for this organization are on the back
table, or send a postcard to PO Box 296, Corvallis, OR 97330. This afternoon
you can attend a forage and find a truffle yourself. Learn how to describe
and submit truffles for free identification.	 To learn about marketing
mushrooms, contact Jerry Larson at the Oregon Department of Agriculture in
Salem. Talk to mushroom buyers and sellers. Check want ads in your local
paper to find mushroom buyers.	   One last comment before I take questions.
The first person who sells a poisonous mushroom that causes a death will a:
be charged with manslaughter or murder; b: immediate depress all mushroom
markets; c: probably be prosecuted, fined and sued to the full extent of the
law. If you are going to sell mushrooms, be positive of your identification.
Here is a simple key: Don’t sell what you wouldn’t eat yourself. There are
many look-alikes.  Thank you for attending.	   Any questions?

	The following is an update for 1998: Italian White truffles this year,
according to an e-mail from Tanith Tyrr of California, retailed for $2400 per

Posted as a courtesy by
Daniel B. Wheeler

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