It is early spring here in New Zealand, and we have left it too late to locate some nice willow or poplar logs, but we do have pear and plum logs from pruning a long-overgrown orchard. Has anyone had any success growing Shitake mushrooms on these?
I have read in a mushroom book that it is really hard to cultivate shiitake on plum or pear. Turkey tail can be cultivated on them, but around here, you dont' have to cultivate turkey tail. It finds you. Fruit wood is said to be too dense to fruit very well. Bryant, if you have experience to the contrary or tips I would love to hear it. What I have heard is that if you chip it, you could grow it in bags or buckets.
To grow shitake on fruit woods you must keep the logs wet. The best method I've found is to soak the new logs, submerged in a barrel for a few days prior to inoculation.
If they dry out at all while the hyphae are growing and spreading they are in danger of not being able to spread.
Shitake hyphae (as almost all fungi hyphae grow in the cambium layers first, then they will migrate into the heart wood (the dense part of any tree).
Usually the first bloom of fruits occur when the cambium is full of hyphae, the second bloom will happen while they are moving into the heart wood.
Since it is the cambium we want full of hyphae, keeping the logs wet will speed up this process.
It is when a fruit logs cambium starts to dry that causes most failures when using these for mushroom growing medium.
Chips are always better than whole logs since it is easier to control moisture content, inoculation, as well as contamination.
This holds true for all wood species that you can use for producing mushrooms.
By wet I mean damp enough to wick water into a paper towel laid on the end grain, not as in dripping off the log all the time.
A mister setup along with a timer is the easiest way to keep any logs at the just right moisture content.
Thank you Kola John, Some other things to keep in mind are:
Fresh cut trees will be less likely to have any contaminating spores in them.
If a tree is felled and left on the ground for one week (this is the whole tree) then you want to remove the bottom 4 feet to get to good mushroom wood.
This is because the spores that are laying on the ground will have taken hold at the cut end and by moving up 4 feet you should have no contamination.
It is best to cut, buck, and saw your logs one step after the other. then drill and inoculate and set them in place. All in the same day.
This is to reduce the possibility of contamination by other fungi spores.
Automatic misting ensures the best hyphae growth and thus the best bloom and crop.
Would automatic misting be necessary in a climate that's constantly humid (e.g. the south coast of England)? Average annual relative humidity here is 70-92%. And where we are, we get sea mists as well.
It should be much easier and not always necessary, but I would check during a dry spell. As Bryant says, until they've developed the mycelium, they are more prone to drying out and failure. Afterwards, they become spongier and easier to keep moist. That's why I cultivate in buckets only in our wet season Nov to April (like England) rather than our dry season May to Oct (like S. of France). Make sure your mist isn't full of chlorine/chloramine.