Forest-Cultivated Mushroom Production for Pacific Northwest Diversified Farms and Startups

Project Overview

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2022: $174,951.00
Projected End Date: 09/30/2025
Host Institution Award ID: G150-23-W9981
Grant Recipients: Washington State University; Oregon State University
Region: Western
State: Washington
Principal Investigator:
Justin O'Dea
Washington State University
Dr. Eric Jones
Oregon State University
Patrick Shults
Washington State University, ANR Extension Unit
Kevin Zobrist
Washington State University


  • Miscellaneous: mushrooms


  • Crop Production: agroforestry, forest farming, forestry, forest/woodlot management
  • Education and Training: demonstration, extension, farmer to farmer, mentoring, participatory research, technical assistance
  • Energy: Low-input, low carbon footprint
  • Farm Business Management: budgets/cost and returns, new enterprise development, risk management, value added
  • Natural Resources/Environment: Alternatives to timber production
  • Pest Management: Exclusion
  • Production Systems: Pesticide-free
  • Soil Management: Farmland/soil disturbance not required
  • Sustainable Communities: employment opportunities, ethnic differences/cultural and demographic change, local and regional food systems, new business opportunities, urban agriculture, urban/rural integration, values-based supply chains

    Proposal abstract:

    Public research and education programs have been pivotal in adapting traditional Japanese forest-cultivated mushroom (FCM) production systems to the eastern US. Notwithstanding, Pacific Northwest (PNW) researchers are in an incipient stage of generating information to support regional adoption of FCM systems, despite exceptionally high stakeholder demands for Extension programming and a favorable production and market context in the western PNW. These systems are scale-appropriate to diversified farm operations and small-acreage farm startups; equipment, infrastructure, capital, acreage, and input demands are all relatively low for an agricultural enterprise. They are likewise resource-use efficient and do not compete with other crops for existing farmland by producing a food product from PNW forestland. These uncommonly low barriers-to-entry increase potential for grower adoption, and notably also provide important, feasible opportunities for many PNW farms being pushed to diversify and concentrate production as a result of urbanization.

    In 2019, WSU Extension began the first University-based research on the commercial viability of FCM systems in the PNW. Results to-date indicate that shiitake mushrooms produced in appropriately-managed PNW FCM systems may yield on-par or greater than those reported from other regions where these systems have become established as feasible enterprise options for diversified farms and startups. This project proposes objectives that 1) further refine PNW FCM systems for commercial production via trials of management innovations and production options, 2) bolster FCM production innovation via network-building with contemporary FCM production information in Japan, and 3) poise the project to precipitate direct impacts on small and diversified farm businesses via. direct mentorship of FCM system establishment, training of peer-mentors, and inciting a grower network in the western PNW.

    The proposed project takes a unique approach to facilitating rapid regional adoption diffusion, and to jumpstarting research-based FCM management innovations and region-specific course-corrections through insights gained from FCM system advancements in Japan that have become increasingly obscure to domestic FCM producers over the last 30-40 years. Successful refinement of these systems could incite a cascade of yet-untapped production and market opportunity for farms, local food systems, and attendant mushroom production supply and value-added processor businesses in the PNW.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    R1) Assess longer-term estimates of shiitake mushroom yield with Pacific Northwest (PNW)-refined management approaches to inform yield expectations and enterprise budgets.
    R2) Assess interactions between shiitake strains and PNW-sourced substrates to inform annual expectations from full-season yields.
    R3) Assess two shiitake inoculation rates, forced-fruiting patterns, and log moisture management for effects on spawn run and yield to inform labor budgets.
    R4) Establish screening trials for assessing 5 strains of oyster mushrooms and 7 other promising species mushrooms for their potential to be grown commercially within PNW forest-cultivated mushroom (FCM) system.
    E1) Mentor ten PNW farmers in FCM production for direct project impact and to support their development as peer mentors supporting further PNW FCM business development.
    E2) Establish a Mushroom Growers Network as a base supporting future grower adoption and new FCM business opportunities.
    E3) Train a team of researchers in contemporary FCM research and production system management to support FCM growth and production viability.
    E4) Connect PNW growers with advancements in commercial FCM production in Japan to help incite regional FCM innovation.
    E5) Disseminate advancements in the FCM system knowledge base at educational events to incite grower adoption in the PNW.
    E6) Produce Extension materials on commercial FCM as a resource supporting future grower adoption.




    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.