Study examines mushroom habitat

| Print |  Email
Articles - January 2011
Thursday, December 16, 2010

 

0111_ATS12
Volunteers gather soil samples in the Deschutes National Forest as part of a study by the U.S. Forest Service on the habitat of the Matsutake mushroom.

Mushroom harvester camps in the Crescent Ranger District, which collectively rival the population of nearby towns, are weighing in on how forests are managed in an effort to protect the country’s top-producing Matsutake area.

Roughly 2,000 seasonal Matsutake mushroom pickers come to the Crescent Lake area every fall to gather the gourmet fungus for the Japanese market. A group of these harvesters and others in the Oregon mushroom-gathering community worked with the Forest Service this past fall on a multi-year study to determine the impact that winter tree thinning will have on Matsutake health. Both groups hope to find ways to lessen any impact tree thinning could have on the valuable mushroom.

Matsutake prices have fallen in the past 10 to 15 years because of competition from Korea and China, but harvesters still flock to the volcanic, well-drained soils of the Deschutes National Forest that produce the largest concentration of the mushroom in the U.S. “In the 1990s, one pound of Matsutakes was worth more than a truckload of logs,” says Carl Wilmsen, executive director of the Alliance of Forest Workers & Harvesters.

This past fall a bumper crop and international competition helped reduce prices to as low as $1 a pound for the picker. The alliance has successfully lobbied the U.S. Forest Service to reduce the total acreage thinned in the area in the past decade and to lead the collaborative study last fall to help protect the mushroom habitat.

Matsutakes, like many fungi, form a symbiotic relationship with trees, providing minerals in exchange for sugars. “These fungi are on the roots of the trees,” says Dan Luoma, an OSU mycologist and designer of the study. “If you cut down the tree, there’s no more food for the fungus.” That said, Luoma notes that cutting some trees may be beneficial because forests floors that are only 40% to 70% covered by tree canopy are prime spots for Matsutake production. Logging during the winter also may help reduce damage to dormant mushrooms. These are questions the study aims to answer once it is completed in the next few years.

PETER BELAND
 

More Articles

The Cover Story

Linda Baker
Thursday, August 27, 2015
01-cover-0915-thumbBY LINDA BAKER | EDITOR

How do you put a baby on the cover of a business magazine without it looking too cutesy?


Read more...

Business School

September 2015
Wednesday, August 19, 2015
BY AMY MILSHTEIN

Training, from the mundane to the sublime, bolsters companies and workers in an uncertain world.


Read more...

House of Clarity

July/August 2015
Monday, July 13, 2015
BY JACOB PALMER

Holding a Power Lunch at Veritable Quandary in downtown Portland.


Read more...

Greenpeace (temporarily) prevents Shell oil ship from leaving Portland

The Latest
Thursday, July 30, 2015
hangersBY JASON E. KAPLAN | STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

Greenpeace activists suspended themselves from the St. John's Bridge in an attempt to prevent a ship from heading to the Arctic.


Read more...

Money Troubles

September 2015
Thursday, August 20, 2015
BY DAN COOK

The state’s angel investing fund gets hammered in Salem.


Read more...

Storyteller in Chief: Natural Prophets

July/August 2015
Monday, July 13, 2015
BY SAM BLACKMAN

Storyteller-in-chief with the CEO and co-founder of Elemental Technologies.


Read more...

Reader Input: Energy Overload

June 2015
Wednesday, July 15, 2015

We asked readers to weigh in on the fossil fuel-green energy equation.


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS