Modified Use of Spored Oil for Profitable Production of Mushrooms

2011 Annual Report for FNE10-678

Project Type: Farmer
Funds awarded in 2010: $15,000.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2014
Region: Northeast
State: West Virginia
Project Leader:
Lawrence Beckerle
Mountaintop Quail Farms

Modified Use of Spored Oil for Profitable Production of Mushrooms


Modified Use of Spored Oil for Profitable Production of Mushrooms

2011 interim report

This February 14, 2011 report uses the numbered content suggestions that were provided by Carol Delaney. After each suggestion there is a description by Mr. Lawrence T. Beckerle of the progress on this project.

1.) Restate the goals of your project

Demonstrate the feasibility of growing mushrooms on waste wood products generated when trees and shrubs are cut during thinnings for crop tree release, fence clearings, creation of wildlife openings, creation and maintenance of utility right-of-ways and similar activities. A key part of this research will compare techniques for the possible enhancement of an approximately eleven year-old method for inoculating logs and stumps by using spore infused oil to lubricate the bar and chain of a chain saw. Unlike petroleum based oils, the oils used with mushroom spores are biodegradable. Thus there are environmental as well economic benefits to be realized for the wooded areas of the United States.

Farmers and small woodlot owners in the Northeast can benefit from this project, because of their close proximity to large population centers that currently import most of their mushrooms from overseas and from other areas of the country. Many of these mushrooms are grown indoors and thus may not have all of the health benefits of outdoor, organically grown mushrooms.

2.) Update the information on your farm

A female mink used a four to five-foot high snow drift to find a way into the pen for bobwhite quail and killed all the birds. Due to this loss, no quail were raised on the farm in 2010.
Planted some Missouri source pecan trees.
Walnut trees planted about 15 years ago have yet to produce nuts. With the arrival of the Thousands Canker Disease in Tennessee, it is likely that these trees will die in the next ten years.

Gathered black cherry seed for reforestation project.
Will gather aspen seed for US Forest Service around May 3, 2011.
Harvested sassafras root and herbs for friends that use herbs for food, flavor, medicinal purposes.

Mr. Beckerle used logs from the farm to teach mushroom cultivation classes in May and early November of 2010. Wood not suitable for mushroom cultivation became part of firewood sales. Leftover spawn (starter for mushroom cultivation) is used to inoculate hardwood logs as time allows. Best time to cut most logs for shiitake cultivation is between October 1st and April 1st. Some trees (birch, maple, sourwood) have early rising sap, so Mr. Beckerle prefers to cut these trees before February 1st. Some of these logs will be used for a class to be taught in May, 2011.

3.) Describe your cooperators and their roles in the project

Mario R. Morales, PhD is the director of the Medicinal Botanicals at Mountain State University in Beckley, West Virginia. He obtained a B.S. degree in Agronomy and Horticulture from San Carlos University, Guatemala. He obtained a M.S. and PhD degrees in Agronomy from Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN.

Dr. Morales serves as technical advisor to this project. He has considerable experience with publishable scientific research. Mr. Beckerle has conducted a large number of trials with mushrooms since 1985, but hasn’t had those published. The primary role of Dr. Morales is to help Mr. Beckerle to conduct this project in way that is scientifically rigorous and to aid in getting the results published in a number of journals, magazines and newsletters.

4.) Tell us what you did on the project and what remains to be done

Mr. Beckerle tried out the new chainsaw using the biodegradable oil. Ordered and received nearly all of the supplies needed to start the project. Plastic coated paper and wax coated paper will be purchased this week. Some supplies will not be needed until spring and summer.

Considerable work was done on one of the access roads in October, which included the addition of three tractor trailer loads of gravel. However, heavy snow and ice storms prevented transporting of logs by 4-wheel drive pickup truck during December, January and part of February. The week of February 13 is predicted to have high temperatures in the 40’s, maybe 50’s by weekend. Enough ice and snow should melt to allow movement of logs by 4-wheel drive pickup. One road was usable on 13th, another by14th. Hills are up to 400 ft. higher than the lower parts of the access roads, so they are quite effective at blocking the winter sun.

If this wasn’t for the research part of this project, Mr. Beckerle could have inoculated logs and stumps as time allowed. To eliminate or at least reduce variables outside of those being tested, trees will be cut in close time frames and logs taken to designated locations so environmental conditions are essentially the same.

5.) Describe your results and accomplishments to date

Mr. Beckerle’s previous work with biodegradable oil resulted in a problem of chain and bar oil running out before the saw ran out of gas. With the Bioplus about 12.5 % of the oil is a stabilizer. With this product the oil for lubricating the bar and chain lasts as long as the fuel in the old chainsaws that Mr. Beckerle uses for cutting firewood: Husqvarna 288XP (88cc), McCulloch Timber Bear (about 50 to 60cc, model 60013415, serial number 11 013358), Poulan Pro (42cc).

On a delivery of firewood to a neighbor the gallon jug of oil was set on the ground while the wood was unloaded. The neighbors’ dog went to the jug and licked off the oil on the outside of the jug. Since his tail was happily wagging as he eagerly licked off the oil, this suggests to Mr. Beckerle that this biodegradable oil is indeed an environmentally friendly product.

The supplier of spore infused oil (spored oil) suggests that be mixed with biodegradable oil in anywhere from a ten to one ratio or twenty to one ratio. Mr. Beckerle purchased two RATIO RITE cups that are calibrated to give accurate ratio’s from 16:1 to 70:1 for amounts of 1.0, 1.5, 2.0, 2.5 gallons and multiples thereof. Gives an accurate ratio of 8:1 to 70:1 for 1 gallon. Considering using a 20:1 ratio, 200cc per gallon.
Spored oil should never be mixed with petroleum based oil. The petroleum based oil left in an old chainsaw has the potential to kill spores and thus change the results of this project. A new chainsaw was ordered with special instructions to the dealer that if any petroleum based oil were put into the chamber that holds the oil for lubricating the bar and chain oil, Mr. Beckerle would refuse to take the saw. The dealer complied with his request to abstain from the usual practice of filling the oil compartment with petroleum based oil. The dealer was kind enough to call Mr. Beckerle, so when Mr. Beckerle first arrived the chainsaw was still in the box that was used to ship it from the factory.

Mr. Beckerle prefers to cut trees for mushroom production at temperatures below 32 degrees Fahrenheit to reduce possibilities for contamination from molds and fungi. Some manufacturers of chainsaws offer on some of their models a special order option that includes a heated carburetor and handle. This heating system works off of the ignition system. In the fall of 2010, a 52cc chainsaw (Jonsered 2153) was the smallest saw that could be ordered with the heated carburetor and handle option. Stihl offered the option only on much bigger saws. Husqvarna also offered the option on large saws. In previous years, all three manufacturers had offered the option on much smaller chainsaws. In Mr. Beckerle’s search, he did not find any other manufacturer that offered the heater option on chainsaws.

The heated carburetor and handle option on the Jonsered 2153 chainsaw is very helpful when cutting trees at temperatures below 20 degrees Fahrenheit. At temperatures above about 25 degrees, the heat option had to be turned off after several minutes, because the handle would get uncomfortably warm.

6.) Describe any site conditions or conditions specific to your farm and this growing season that may be affecting your results

Startup of the experiment has been delayed due to ice storms and unusually heavy snow events in December and January. Fortunately, unusually cold weather has delayed the rise of sap in maple and other early sap risers. However this can change quickly (and it is), thus the plan is to cut and top red maple trees as soon as roads permit transport to designated area. As of the evening of 2-13-11 Mr. Beckerle had 27 logs of red maple (up to ten feet long) on the pickup truck. On the 14th moved these to the designated area for the study with 16” logs. Cut to length of 16” and end treatments could be delayed for weeks, but cutting will likely be done on the 15th or 16th and treatments on the 19th.

7.) Describe your economic findings

Currently, it can be difficult for small farmers to use biodegradable oil because of high costs of special order and shipping. Next bulk order will not go out until July, 2011. If not part of that bulk order, any local individual will have to pay more for the oil and pay UPS shipping charges.

8.) Say whether the results from your project generated new ideas about what is needed to solve the problems you were working on. What tasks or elements of the study are remaining?

Due to the quick change to warm weather the maple stumps will soon be producing large amounts of sap. A fall startup would have avoided this concern. However a mid winter startup is usually better for Shiitake. It is a time of less spores in the air and thus less chance of other fungi and molds adversely affecting the results. It’s just one of the tradeoffs in trying to do a series of related experiments in the same time frame.

With just the maple trees cut as of February 15, there is much to be done. The time between February 15 and April 1st is all that remains of the dormant season. The oyster mushroom mix and red maple part of the stuides are thus to be done first. The shiitake mushroom and oak will follow soon after. All studies will be underway by April 1st.

Since this project was set up to go till the end of 2012 with a final report due in 2013, it will be possible to repeat one or more the studies in late summer or fall if there should be some kind of destruction or total failure.

Results from the February-March work will begin to show in about two months as mycelium makes its presence known under the wax coating or freezer paper.


Dr. Mario Morales
Mountain State University, Medicinal Botanicals Program
410 Neville St.
Beckley, WV 25801-4511