If you are a farmer with some bush on your land, or a bush lot owner, you may want to consider getting into some small scale Shiitake cultivation. Up to five thousand logs can be managed on a part time basis and can provide a welcome addition to your income. Ideally you will have your own logs, if not they can be contracted from local loggers. Your hardwood or softwood bush will be a good environment for the inoculated logs. Access to water is necessary if you want to “force” the logs otherwise you will get a natural “flush” in the spring and fall, or if there is extended rainfall you will get a “flush”. The latter method will put the least demands on your time but you will have to be “on top” of these flushes or you will lose the mushrooms. As a bush lot owner you can apply to have your lot changed over to “farm classification” and therefore benefit from the farm tax rebate program (Ontario). You will have to show a serious effort however not just a few logs or the tax inspector will not grant you farm status.
Small scale indoor cultivation could be suitable for a farmer who can convert an existing building to a “grow room”. You could limit your cultivation period to the winter when your other farm activities are less demanding and the demand and price for shiitake as at its peak. Our long incubation period shiitake blocks can produce mushrooms for up to six months, the main production coming in the first 3-4 months. They also like a temperature of around 15C which will be easy to maintain in the winter and at this temperature they produce very high quality mushrooms. If you decide to try your hand at cultivation you need to purchase blocks either ready to fruit, or shortly after inoculation, about a month into the spawn run. You should get a long incubation period mushroom strain for the following schedule to work. Blocks can be contracted, ready to grow, from either a large block supplier, or from a local grower who makes blocks, providing he has the capacity to produce and incubate extra blocks beyond his own needs. If the blocks are delivered to you say October, you will have finished with them in March, just in time for the regular farm work to start outdoors. A ready to fruit block will be more expensive than one that has just been inoculated. If your block manufacturer does not have to incubate the block he should be able to sell it for a cheaper price. Since you have a grow room for fruiting, this area can become a spawn run (incubation) area without modifications. You can take delivery of the blocks say one month after they have been sterilized and inoculated, in August. At this point the mycelium will have taken over all or most of the block and any that are contaminated will be obvious. They can be placed in the grow room and kept for 3 months at 23C and will be ready in October for fruiting.
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