Forest Farming Shiitake Mushrooms

At the NOFA NY Winter Conference, one of the workshops I attended was Forest Farming Shiitake Mushrooms. This one was well attended and I got lots of useful information on forest farming. I definitely plan on doing this on my own small farm – especially if it has some shady pine woods on it. In any case, at the end of this workshop, each participant got to inoculate their own log and take it home which was sweet. So now my log sits in may father in-law’s shady back acre and maybe this Spring I will get some spawn & bolts (hardwood logs) to give my little log some company!

Tips for Forest Farming Shiitake Mushrooms

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  • Bolts (logs) need good shade favoring Pines and Hemlocks
  • Bolts need moist, wet conditions for spawn to colonize
  • Bolts should be 3″ – 8″ diameter and about 3′ in length for ease of carrying around.
  • 5 lb bag of mushroom spawn will inoculate about 30 three foot logs (bolts)
  • Use deciduous hardwoods for bolts – red oak, sugar maple, hophornbeam, beech
  • Harvest logs in early Spring and drill in Summer
  • Takes about a year for Shiitake to colonize the bolt and produce fruit when day temps reach 70° F
  • Contact local tree guys, firewood sellers, loggers for bolt stock as they often don’t use small width logs

Where to sell your Shiitake mushrooms?

Of course selling direct at your local Farmers Market will always be good. Shiitake mushrooms are also a great add-on for an existing CSA operation. Look to restaurants for weekly sales in season because they are always in demand. Think about selling bruised or imperfect mushrooms dried or made into other value-added gourmet edibles like spreads, pates, even soups. It’s important too to promote the fact that shiitake mushrooms grown on logs in the forest are healthier and of higher quality than those grown on “artificial substrates” like pressed sawdust. Here’s more info on this.

The Fun-Guys (& Gals)

The presenters did a fantastic job and had the large audience engaged from beginning to bolt. Thanks to Matt Anderson, Allen Matthews, Julie Rockcastle, Steve Gabriel, and Kenneth Mudge. Be sure to check out the Northeast Forest Mushroom Growers Network for tons more info.

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