Dr. Kenneth Mudge with Cornell University’s Department of Horticulture reviews the various stages of shiitake mushroom cultivation in this series of videos. From choosing the correct tree species to the correct shiitake strain, Dr. Mudge examines the science behind mushroom farming and demonstrates the steps needed to grow this non-timber forest product.
Biologically, forest cultivation of mushrooms involves fungal decay of an organic substrate, usually wood. The substrate is the “food source” for the fungus that allows the fungus to grow and eventually produce mushrooms. The process consists of four stages:
1. Substrate Acquisition
2. Substrate Inoculation
3. Substrate Colonization
4. Mushroom Production
Shiitake Mushrooms are commonly used in cooking and are found more frequently than other mushroom varieties. Farmed shiitake mushrooms are often of higher quality than those bought in grocery stores. Dr. Kenneth Mudge with Cornell University’s Department of Horticulture reviews the cost/benefit analysis of shiitake mushroom farming.
Dr. Kenneth Mudge explains the life cycle of a mushroom. From spores, to mycelium, to mushroom, Dr. Mudge reviews the various stages of the shiitake mushroom and illustrates the science behind shiitake mushroom logs.
One of the first steps of shiitake mushroom farming is cutting the right species of trees at the right time of year. In this video, Dr. Kenneth Mudge explains which tree species are best for shiitake mushroom farming and when to cut the logs.
Inoculated logs should be placed under a tree canopy or artificial shade to prevent them from drying out. Monitoring rainfall or using irrigation can prevent the logs from drying. Various strains of a species may be available, and each strain’s characteristics should be considered according to temperature and production conditions.
Different stacking techniques can result in different yields. Lower A-Frame stacks receive more moisture from the ground but can be more easily contaminated by slugs and other insects. Dr. Kenneth Mudge reviews the differences between high A-frame stacking and low A-frame stacking in this video.
Japanese hill-side stacking maximizes the use of steep inclines. This is a resourceful means of stacking mushroom logs when there is no flat land or when it is used for other crops.
Forcing (shocking) is accomplished by completely immersing the log in water for 12 to 24 hours, after which the logs are stacked or leaned against a rail or a tree, for about a week. After several days (seven to 10 usually), the small mushroom primordials (pins) begin to form; and several days later (temperature/moisture dependent), the mushrooms are ready to harvest.
Shiitake mushroom logs can yield several mushroom harvests every year, sometimes over the course of several years. Dr. Mudge discusses the optimal time to harvest shiitake mushrooms by the curvature of the mushroom cap.
Dr. Kenneth Mudge reviews different shiitake mushroom spawns. Each strain has different characteristics. Some strains even prefer different weather, causing the mushroom to fruit at different times of the year. Growing seasons can be heavily influenced by the types of strains used when inoculating logs.
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