Shiitake Mushroom Research

Matthew Hall Method vs Standard Cultivation

Important factors concerning my method and the effect it will have in the market.

Shiitakes, Oysters, Maitakes and other ‘speciality gourmet mushrooms’ are worth 92.6 million dollars in 2016 up from 73 million in 2015 which is increase of about 28%.

My method has already proven the following:

  • Increase time : Current tests show a 3.75lb block of shiitake colonizing, browning, and pinning in 30 days.
    • Under current mushroom farms shiitake can take up to or over 100 days depending on size of blocks.  Most growers use a 5lb block method and often take the max of 120 to pinning/mushroom formation.
  • Increase Biological Efficiency : Initial tests recorded 63% BE and on-going tests continue to increase the BE which increases margin.
    • Shiitake has a wide inconsistent range of recorded BE but standard is under 50% for first flush/harvest.

With both the time and harvest improved dramatically my method makes even the smallest mushroom farm extremely viable – moreover improving yield and timing would improve the market dramatically.

Pictured below is the ‘theory’ in practice.

Increased efficiency and timing could improve the market dramatically.

Quantity study.  So far the blocks are producing amazing results and generating a lot of mushrooms.

Quantity has been controlled.


Quality: With quantity – quality seems to suffer.  These blocks are studying quality with the intention of creating large shiitakes as you’d see in the natural log cultivation.

Photo take, 1.11.17 Quantity is great the block supports large shiitakes.

The goal is 75% or better form the first flush and with the increasing quantity and quality studies – this is more than do-able.  75% refers to Biological Efficiency and each of my bags with spawn weigh 3.75lbs which means my goal for a first flush harvest would be 2.81lbs of mushrooms.

After I get 75% then I will start production phase. 5 autoclaves which will be sterilizing/starting 30 bags a week with an expected output of about 85lbs of shiitakes once we begin our first production harvests.

There are 6 more trials bags currently on-going – and I’ve all the confidence we’ll find 75% or better – the better the percentage the better the margin.

Timing and Technique will come later on after production.  My current blocks take around 45 days on average, with 30 day block being a possibility.  Many factors control timing of which will be explored after into production of shiitakes.  Overall goal of shiitake turn around is 1 month.

Morel Mushroom Research

Starting the biology of the morel is important – in the diagram to the right we see a visual of the life cycle give to us by Tom Volk from the University of Wisconsin.

Tom Volk - University of Wisconsin

The morel mushroom life cycle is quite complex – but from the diagram show above on the right we see the path to the morel is through a formation called ‘sclerotium’.  In lab cultures sclerotia readily form and through much testing I’ve been able to figure out what it likes and how it forms hundreds of potential morels.

Sclerotia formations in sterilized medium.

More recently in August of 2017 I was able to germinate sclerotium but more interestingly than that was the ability to germinate 2 visually and functionally different types.

Asexual mycelium directly coming from sclerotia formations. Fast moving and re-colonized the jar quickly.
Sexual mycelium(non-spore producing) directly coming from sclerotia formations but extremely slow moving and very condensed mycelium.

Now the question being – what does each do?  The sclerotium on the left was extremely fast and re-colonized the jar – although it was slightly thicker than its’ parent mycelium that grew the sclerotia it did nothing.

The sclerotium on the right however moves extremely slow – but more importably – I’ve found out how to repeat the process to get to this point.

Some of the more promising studies are also happening on agar media.  Currently I am testing 4 different types of morels for viability and one of my plates is showing new signs of life.

In one plate alone we have 4 distinct structures 3 of which I’ve never seen, and 1 I have.  The function and form of these is too small to see for now and I can only hypothesize what is happening as this is a first for me also on agar plates.

Form 1: This is actually sclerotium forming on top of the agar.

This is form 2, unknown.  These formations are brown, hyphae seem to be coming from them, but they do not form white ball like structures – very different from sclerotia.

Form 3, unknown.  This structure appears embedded into the agar but it is raised a little which is seem from lower magnifications.  It is near the Form 2 structure and not near sclerotia.

Form 4, unknown.  Raised hyphae mycelium coming form the plate closer to forms 2/3 and away from sclerotia – skinny in shape – extremely small.

Shiitake mushrooms, Lentinula Edodes, are in the Basidiomycota family of fungi.  They are gilled mushrooms with white gills and white spores – can be grown indoors or outdoors on a hardwood medium.  They’ve been cultivated for years and are one of the tastiest mushrooms on the market.

Shiitakes are still in their infancy of cultivation in my eyes and there is still so much to improve upon.  Shiitake yields are not nearly as good as Oysters or similar mushrooms and many do not know why – but I’ve found a key recipe for my blocks that not only makes them tasty but productive.