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May I cultivate boletus?

This is one of the most common FAQs: may I cultivate boletus? As we reply in the negative, people normally react skeptically. For this reason, they subsequently wonder why other types of mushrooms can be cultivated while boletus not.
Although we won't face the problem from a scientific point of view, it is necessary to make a premise.
First of all, it is important to clarify that the so called “edible mushrooms” ( mushrooms we can eat ) are macroscopic mushrooms; it means they are provided with a big and showy fruit body (cap), while micro mushrooms and/or moulds or yeast are not.
Therefore, basing on nutritional methodology, mushrooms can be divided into two main categories: saprophytes and those having a symbiotic relationship.
Saprophytes are mushrooms living on dead organic substance in decomposition state. On the other hand, symbiotic mushrooms live together with another creature, whatever animal or vegetal it might be.
Nowadays, it is quite easy to cultivate saprophytes since they only require an appropriate nutritious substrate, a proper microclimate and habitat of all different vital phases to accomplish a gainful cultivation.
( Herewith, we talk about cultivation when mushroom production aims at making profits, while multiplication, reproduction, production are parts of scientifical or amateur cultivation ).
Although saprophytes cultivation is not as easy as it may seem, it can be pursued in most cases; everyday examples are field mushroom cultivation, as well as oyster mushroom, Shii-take, poplar mushroom, Velvet-stemmed agaric (Flammulina), King mushroom, Padi strae mushroom (Volvariella) and so on.
As far as symbiosis is concerned, it can be either mutual or parasitic.

It is parasitic when an organism (a mushroom in this case) lives on another living creature without giving it any support, or rather getting it sick or killing it ( e.g. Parasites of plants such as Puccinia for wheat, Botrytis for grapevine, Powdery mildew for agricultural and ornamental plants ).
On the contrary, symbiosis happens to be a mutual or mychorrizal process when it consists in an exchange of nutritional favours (e.g. The relationship between boletus and truffle).
As a result, an intimate link between mushroom and host plant gets established, so that you can cultivate this type of mushroom only if it is close to its plant.
For this reason, it is quite difficult – if not impossible - to cultivate a mychorrizal mushroom.
A very common example of symbiont is truffle, which is cultivated on mychorrizal plants.
Following the same procedure, the cultivation of boletus has also been pursued by mychorrizing host plants. Dott. Delmas was one of the first to attempt this procedure. Famous researcher in the field of mushroom and truffle cultivation, during the sixties he managed to mychorrize some plants with Boletus granulatus.
As far as boletus is concerned, even B. bovinus and B. scaber have been cultivated following the same procedure as above. Nonetheless, the commercial value of these types of mushrooms is almost derisory.
It might be possible to obtain good exemplaries of Boletus edulis, aereus, retatus; in other words, Boletus 'par excellence'. Anyhow, production times would be long and unrewarding.
A production of false truffle could reach up to 80-120 gr. for each mychorrized plant, but it would take a very long time, which would end up being a completely unprofitable thing. Don't believe in those who say that a false truffle production can reach up to 3-4 kilos, it's a lie!
Through a deep research it would be possible to discover the intimate relationship between the two plants; unfortunately, such research is expensive and backers are not easy to find.

Boletus spawn

Talking about boletus, let's debunk another myth.
We are more and more often asked for some boletus spawn. As we reply that it is actually not on sale, we are told that somebody else is stating the contrary.
At this point, it seems to me that a little clarity on the issue is due. As any other type of mushroom, it is also possible to produce boletus spawn. However boletus, as all mychorrizes, does not reproduce through spawn.
Considering all that, it is totally useless to produce and sell boletus spawn without a clear explanation of what mentioned above.

Giuseppe Lanzi

Azienda Agricola Funghi Mara | | Tel 051 892049 - 051 872350 | FAX 051 893768 | P.IVA 00032141202

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