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Shiitake Mushrooms

Shiitake Mushrooms

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Published by: bcchingangbam on Apr 06, 2010
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Shiitake Mushrooms Enterprise
 Shiitake mushrooms are specialty mushrooms with a distinctive flavor that are grown on oak logs. Specialtymushrooms have been enjoyed locally and in small quantities by Native American and ethnic populations andhave been widely used for centuries by Asian cultures. Behind the common button and oyster mushrooms, theshiitake mushroom is the third most widely produced mushroom in theworld, and American production of shiitake has increased faster thanany other specialty mushroom.The shiitake is a large, umbrella-shaped mushroom that is dark brownand is prized both for its culinary and its medicinal properties. Provenmedicinal benefits include antiviral, antifungal, and anti-tumor effects.For example, the consumption of shiitake mushrooms significantly low-ers blood cholesterol levels and is reported to lower high blood pres-sure in laboratory animals. Shiitake contain all eight essential aminoacids in better proportions than in soybeans, meat, milk, or eggs, aswell as a good blend of vitamins and minerals, including vitamins A, B, B12, C, D, and niacin. Shiitake mush-rooms are a popular source of protein in Japan and a diet staple in China and other parts of the Pacific Rim.Shiitake mushrooms have been commercially grown in the United States for over 20 years and are now wellaccepted by American gourmet markets. Shiitake may be used as a meat substitute in vegetarian dishes andare valued for their full-bodied flavor, dark color and meaty texture. In 1999, wholesale market prices for shiitakeranged from $4 to $8 per pound, and growers generally received between $4 and $6 per pound for fresh, well-formed mushrooms.
To grow shiitakes, green oak logs are cut (5" x 48") inthe spring and inoculated with spores (also calledspawn), which are purchased from commercial sup-pliers. Different strains are better suited for differentenvironmental conditions. Using the most appropriatestrain for your area will be a large factor in the suc-cess or failure of your operation.Inoculation is perhaps the most time-consuming op-eration in shiitake production. The process of inocula-tion begins with taking harvested, cut-to-length logsand drilling rows of holes about 6 inches apart alongthe length of the log. Logs average 35-40 holes each.Hole depth and diameter will vary depending on thetype of spawn used. To prevent bacterial or fungalcompetitors from entering the log, each inoculationhole should be sealed with a thin coat of hot wax us-ing a sponge. After inoculation, logs should be stacked in a shadedforest location or covered with 60 percent shadecloth. Proper moisture content is critical for optimalincubation and should be monitored regularly. Logsshould never dry out, but should not be so wet as toproduce mold. It is important to allow the bark to dryout between waterings. Good air circulation will helpto prevent molding. Fruiting can be initiated by soak-ing the logs in a creek or water tank. This is usuallydone every few months to time the fruiting of thelogs.Logs will begin to fruit between 6 to 18 months after inoculation and will continue to produce mushroomsfor about three to five years, depending on log di-ameter. Growers report the second and third yearsafter inoculation as the most productive, with doublethe production of that during the first and fourthyears.
& E
Mushrooms should be harvested when their caps areabout two-thirds open, cutting the stem flush with thebark with a sharp knife. Mushrooms may be stored ina cardboard box for up to a month at 36-41°F. Mush-rooms may also be dried whole or sliced before mar-keting, but they will bring substantially lower pricesthan for fresh whole mushrooms. Ideally, mushroomsare sold immediately to restaurants, retail outlets,and other places.Each log may be used for 4 to 5years. Mushroom production will onlyoccur from spring through fall unlessthe logs are put in a heated locationthrough the winter.
Time and Skills Needed
Of course, the more experienceyou’ve had growing mushrooms, andespecially shiitakes, the better off you’ll be. You or a member of your production team will need to be ableto regularly lift substantial logs andbe comfortable hammering and drill-ing and working in damp areas. In-oculation, which is the most labor-intensive part of the proposition, takes place in the spring. If you areotherwise occupied in the spring, you might consider another enterprise. If you have theresources to cut your own logs,that will save money. Be preparedto harvest, pack, and transportyour mushrooms in the fall.
Equipment and ResourcesNeeded
To grow wild-simulated shiitakemushrooms, you’ll need a shadyforest location. You’ll need achainsaw and safety gear if you’regoing to cut your own logs. You’llneed a dependable water source,sprinklers and hoses, or wateringtroughs. Mushroom spawn, poly-foam plugs, wax, a drill, drill bits, a hammer, and asharp knife are also essential. You’ll need packingboxes and you may need one or more refrigerators tostore your crop until it’s all ready to go. Lastly, you’llneed a way to transport your finished product to mar-ket.
The shiitake enterprise provides opportunities for lo-cal producers, but experience has shown that if manyproducers get into the market in one area, the supplycan quickly outstrip the demand. The result is fallingprices. Large-scale producers mayalso act to suppress the price thatsmaller producers receive for their mushrooms in local markets. There-fore, growers need to carefully assessthe demand and supply in their areabefore diving in.Local buyers and outlets for the small-scale producer include restaurants,bed and breakfasts, vacation resorts,organic retailers and markets, super-markets, and farmers’ markets. If small producers are unable to findlocal buyers, wholesale buyers willbuy dry product but offer only abouthalf the price per unit of fresh mush-rooms. Value-added products, such as gourmet shii-take dinners, mushroom samplers, gift tins, sauces,and soups, as well as fresh and dehydrated shiitakeproducts, bring on average aboutthree times the wholesale price of unprocessed mushrooms, so this issomething to consider.
Financial Picture
Cost and revenue calculations inthe following budget cover the use-ful life of the logs (4 years). In our example, overhead or establish-ment costs
, which are incurredonly in the first year of operation,are estimated at $2,406. Becauseof differences in mushroom produc-tion and estimated sales, incomeand annual costs will vary by year;as a result, net revenue over costs is estimated for each of 4 years.In our example, the $2,406 in establishment costs ischarged completely against the first-year income.
Lost Creek Mushroom Farm
Fox Valley Farms
These costs could have been split four ways, with aquarter of the expenses charged to each year. Thisalternative would have changed the profitability for each of the 4 years.In our sample budget, net revenue over total costs
, commonly known as
, is negative for the firstyear, with a loss of $2,374. The operation makesmoney during years 2 and 3, $3,433 and $1,759, re-spectively. However, in year 4, the operation losesmoney again.Profitability for this operation will change dependingon labor and material cost savings and the price re-ceived for the mushrooms. For example, harvestinglogs from the property as part of a forest thinningwould reduce the establishment cost
by $750.Producing on more logs can lower overhead costs.The water tank and refrigerator are not essential untilthe second year. Targeting niche markets may in-crease the price received per pound, but it will alsoincrease marketing costs. Higher prices received for fresh mushrooms and value-added products will sig-nificantly increase the grower’s margin. Careful atten-tion to inoculation and incubation as well as thoroughmarketing will greatly aid in the success of a shiitakeenterprise. To get a true picture of potential salesrevenues, prospective growers must do some spe-  Appalachian Mushroom Growers Association, Rt. 1,Box 30BYY, Haywood, VA 22722Jenkins, D.H., J.S. Kays, and A.L. Hammett. Shiitakemushroom production and marketing. SPF-2, NaturalResource Income Opportunities Series. Special For-est Product Enterprises: An Edible Product Example.www.natural.resources.umd.edu/Pages/Shiitake.htm>Hill, Deborah B. 2001. Shiitake production on logs--Step by step in pictures. University of Kentucky Co-operative Extension. http://www.ca.uky.edu/agc/pubs/for/for77/for77.pdf Missouri Alternatives Center, links to several publica-tions on shiitakes, www.agebb.missouri.edu/mac/links/index.htmcific marketing research for their areas.The budget also provides a break-even price
.This is calculated by adding up the production costsfor each of the 4 years ($9,817) and dividing that sumby the total pounds of mushrooms produced
over the 4 years (4,400), which equals a break-even priceof $2.23. The break-even yield
for the price over the 4-year period is also provided. This is calculatedby totaling the production costs over the 4 years($9,817) and dividing that number by the averageprice per pound ($3.50) that can be expected. Thismeans that 2,805 pounds of mushrooms must beproduced to break even, give the costs provided. To-tal labor costs
over the 4 years are calculated at$4,317.The use of break-even prices and yields providesprospective entrepreneurs with another tool to helpthem gauge how much crop they will have to marketto meet their monetary goals. For this enterprise, theentrepreneur will now have to decide if the work in-volved is worth the potential returns. He or she maydecide to run with it, change the structure of the en-terprise to make it more profitable, or drop the idea.
Information Sources
 American Mushroom Institute, One Massachusetts Ave, NW, Ste. 800, Washington, DC 20001, 202-842-4344. www.americanmushroom.orgRoyse, D. 2001. Cultivation of shiitake on natural andsynthetic logs. Penn State University, UniversityPark, PA. http://pubs.cas.psu.edu/FreePubs/pdfs/ul203.pdf Lost Creek Mushroom Farm, Perkins, OK. http://www.cowboy.net/~lcmf/farm2.htmlFox Valley Farms, Lyons, OR. www.shiitake.net.
Jonathan S. Kays, Regional Extension Specialist,Natural ResourcesJoy R. Drohan, Faculty Extension Assistant,Western Maryland Research and Education Center 

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