|Mushroom Cultivation in Thailand (Peace Corps, 1987, 85 p.)|
|6. Wood ear mushroom cultivation in wooden logs|
Wood ear mushrooms can be very profitable for a farmer to grow due to the low investment, high yield possibilities and high market price. However, wood ear mushroom cultivation does have one major drawback: cultivation requires the use of fresh wood as a growing substrate. Advising and encouraging farmers to grow wood ear mushrooms can accelerate local deforestation, already a serious problem throughout Thailand. However, several steps can be taken to avoid deforesting the land and make wood ear mushroom cultivation possible almost anywhere in the country for many years to come.
Whole trees needn't be cut down in order to cultivate wood ear mushrooms; encourage farmers to trim their trees, and use the larger diameter limbs for mushroom cultivation. Trimming trees will also encourage rapid tree growth and high fruit or fiber production; it is a practice one should follow regardless of any desire to grow wood ear mushrooms. If farmers want to cultivate wood ear mushrooms on a large scale and cannot get enough tree limbs to use as a growing substrate, whole trees may need to be felled. If this must be done, encourage farmers to thin out their old, diseased or otherwise unproductive trees and use them for mushroom cultivation, leaving younger, stronger trees to grow to maturity and provide fruit or fiber for local consumption.
Finally, always encourage farmers to plant more trees than they cut. Many varieties of seedlings are available free of charge from government nurseries. Encourage and assist farmers in taking advantage of this service and plant trees! Some fast growing tree varieties (e.g., Katura, or) can be planted and harvested for mushroom cultivation after only 3-4 years of growth. Encourage tree planting! Using good foresight and proper extension techniques, any agricultural extension agent can make wood ear mushroom cultivation a profitable undertaking for any farmer without depreciating or destroying local resources.