Use of non-native invasive tree logs for commercial mushroom production on small farms

Project Overview

OS14-086
Project Type: On-Farm Research
Funds awarded in 2014: $14,984.00
Projected End Date: 03/14/2017
Region: Southern
State: Florida
Principal Investigator:

Annual Reports

Commodities

  • Miscellaneous: mushrooms

Practices

  • Crop Production: agroforestry, forest/woodlot management
  • Education and Training: on-farm/ranch research
  • Pest Management: integrated pest management

    Abstract:

    Our project demonstrates the viability of logs from invasive trees to produce shiitake mushrooms on small farms in North Florida and South Georgia. This year, two farms successfully produced shiitake mushrooms on both Chinese tallow and oak logs. Yield varied by farm, mushroom strain, and log species. No mushrooms of either strain were produced on Chinaberry or mimosa logs.

    Project objectives:

    Summary:  A comparison of edible shiitake mushroom production on logs of native oak versus non-native invasive weed-trees identified Chinese tallowtree as a feasible alternative on small farms in North Florida.  Although overall yield on oak logs was higher, based on total number and total weight of shiitake mushrooms, the weight of individual Chinese tallowtree mushrooms was significantly larger than an oak derived mushroom.  Two other non-native trees evaluated for shiitake mushroom production, Chinaberry and mimosa, failed to produce mushrooms. Edible mushroom fungi can be used to recycle invasive non-native trees and transform this detrimental resource into an income producing, natural resource.

    Project Objectives:  Removal of invasive species, especially trees, is often time consuming and expensive. Even for a private landowner or small farmer, the cost of cutting down invasive trees and removing the waste generated by branches and trunks consumes resources in time, effort, personnel, and finances; negatively impacting farm sustainability. In an effort to help offset some of these expenditures for small farmers, our overall objective was to evaluate the potential of using non-native tree logs, common to the southern region, to produce edible and marketable mushrooms. We proposed to turn unsustainable, non-native tree species into a sustainable, small farm commodity. Three invasive species were targeted in this study: Chinese tallowtree (Triadica sebifera), mimosa tree (Albizia julibrissin) and Chinaberry tree (Melia azedarach).

    This two year study addressed three objectives:

    1) Determine the yield of edible mushrooms (shiitake) on logs of four tree species common in the southeastern USA (three non-native invasive species and native oak species);

    2) Determine the economic profitability for small farmers in marketing edible mushrooms;

    3) Provide hands-on training to farmers on growing mushrooms on invasive tree species.

    Our initial Objective 1 submitted with the grant request was to evaluate the yield of two commercially grown fungi species; golden oyster (Pleurotus cornucopiae) and shiitake (Lentinula edodes). Because data collected from a pilot study initiated in 2014 identified poor production on oak from the golden oyster fungi, a second strain of shiitake was substituted for the golden oyster. Logs of all test tree species were inoculated with one of two shiitake varieties, Wide Range (WR) 46TM or Snow CapTM. Significant differences in mushroom production between the two shiitake strains were not found so the results from the two strains were combined and only WR 46 was used in the second year inoculation.

    Objective 2 economic data relating to the sale of mushrooms was collected by the farmers. Farmers sold shiitake mushrooms primarily at several Farmer’s Markets, but also to Community Sustainable Agriculture (CSA) members, small local food stores, and at road-side stands.

    Efforts on the third objective included the training of four farms in shiitake production on logs, establishment of mushroom production shade houses, and posting of photos and short videos on farmer websites of the project to produce edible mushrooms on non-native tree logs.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.