Money from Mushrooms - Log Grown Shiitake

It seems that many areas of the United States, and the world, have more quickly adopted agroforestry practices than New York and the Northeast.  This is especially true for forest farming practices (e.g., ginseng, mushrooms) and silvopasture. Although maple syrup production is well established here.  

The potential for woodland owners to participate in and benefit from a woodland enterprise centered on gourmet mushrooms production continues to expand.  Mushroom production has benefited from a blog, a book, and a network of northeastern growers. 

Now, those interested in the bottom line will have access to economic data to help assess the feasibility in their woodlands, and how to optimize production.  A webinar by Steve Gabriel with Cornell Small Farms Program on November 18, 2015 focused on economic factors of log-grown Shiitake mushrooms.  What is especially relevant for woodland owners is the potential to contribute to this growing industry through production of the mushroom bolts (those 36" pieces used for mushroom growing substrate).  The market requires specific species, of deliberate size, straightness, and bark be intact, but bolts sell for significantly more than as their firewood equivalent...let's check the math (yes, kiddies, math can be fun)!

A mushroom bolt might be 4" diameter and 3 ft long.  This bolt has a surface of 12.57 square inches or 0.9 square feet.  Times 3 ft of length = 0.26 cubic feet.  A cord has 128 cubic feet, but usually 85% is solid wood or 108.8 cubic feet of solid wood.  0.26/108.8 * 100 = 0.24% of a cord being represented by the single 4" x 36" bolt.  If a cord sells for $200 delivered, that single piece of wood is worth ($200 x 0.0024 = $0.48...about 50 cents).  As a mushroom bolt, it may sell for $2 to $3 delivered.  Note all prices are "delivered." Thus as a mushroom bolt, it has value 4x to 6x that of firewood [someone can please check my math].  The added advantage is you cut longer sticks and don't split, so there is less handling.  

So, where do you learn more...here is the evening webinar archive.

The noon session had more questions, and available here (full length) or here (just the questions)

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