Mushroom agroforestry

Michael Hagen mhagen at
Mon Aug 18 16:14:07 EST 1997

Larry Caldwell wrote:
> In article <33F48DFF.1C2E at>,
> Don Staples <dstaples at> wrote:
> > Mushrooms and related fungii do not fair well in the sub-tropical
> > south.  Texas tried the shitaki with limited success, although there is
> > still a minor market production in the norhern portion of the state.
> Mushrooms are pretty cranky about their fruiting environment, all right.
> Mushroom growing is a very regional art, or you have to use total
> confinement, which sure isn't agroforestry.
> From a forestry perspective, mushrooms are divided into saprophytes and
> mycorrhizae.  Shiitake are a saprophyte, which grow on any handy dead
> log.  Mycorrhizae are an entirely different matter, and of much more
> interest to the forester.  Trees have evolved in association with certain
> mycorrhizae (literally "myco rhizomes" or "fungus roots") and do much
> better in association with their symbionts.
> Mycorrizae are often excellent edible species, and once they get established
> around the tree root they require no further cultivation.  In the PNW, it's
> been estimated that mushroom production out of timber plots while the trees
> are growing much exceeds the value of the trees at harvest.  Mushroom
> fruiting varies greatly with the weather, but on a good year it's pretty
> easy to *net* $1,000/acre after paying pickers.  In a bad year, you net
> nothing, but there's no overhead and the trees keep growing regardless.
> In Texas, you just have to look for an edible and excellent mycorrhizal
> species to innoculate into your tree plantations.  Boletus Edulis is
> mycorrhizal with pines, edible and excellent, and the dried mushrooms
> go for about $50/lb in the European export market.  Some closely related
> suillus species might also be suitable candidates.  I'll crosspost this
> to bionet.mycology so people familiar with SW mushroom species can make
> suggestions.
> I innoculated 3,000 seedlings with mixed truffle spawn last winter, and plan
> to expand mycorrhizal innoculations over the next few years.  On some of
> my north slopes, there's no apparent reason I can't establish a timber crop,
> a mycorrhizal mushroom crop, and a natural ginseng stand on the same parcel
> of ground.
> All throught the late summer and into the fall, the PNW is full of hordes
> of mushroom pickers.  The Forest Service just charges them a minimal fee
> and lets them pick, then they sell to wholesale buyers.  You have to
> be your own buyer and reseller to come out.
> Rexs13 has been doing this commercially for a while, so maybe he will fill
> in some details.  One thing I found interesting was that he supplied local
> grocery stores and produce markets with a buy-back.  If the market took
> care of the mushrooms, he bought them back and dried them for off-season
> sale.  Boletus Edulis is particularly famed as a dried mushroom, but many
> wild species will dehydrate before they rot.
> I think there's some real gold to be mined there.  A few thousand bucks here,
> a few thousand bucks there, and before you know it you've reached poverty
> level income.  :)
> -- Larry
> Cave ab homine unius libri!

We are cursed to become Jack's of all Trades in this biz.  I have not
yet figured out a way to eat Suillus spp. However, the matsutake flushes
cause something like guerilla war in these parts. I have a bad feeling
about that aspect of woods ginseng propagation. At one time I used to
work in the Orleans, California area. The alternative crop situation was
so intense that foresters were supposed to always work in pairs and be
in recent radio contact.  Between the poson oak, the gonzo
agriculturists and the arsonists, summer in the woods was just
PS. Thanks, Larry for finding that post. My e-mail finger had an

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