shiitake mushroom spores

Shiitake Mushroom Spores for Sawdust and Grain Inoculation

Expanding our shiitake mushroom spores is easy with sawdust and grain so you can develop strong mycelium that will lead to delicious shiitake mushrooms

Shiitake mushroom spores are found in our sawdust and grain spawn bags. You can use these bags to grow your own shiitake mushrooms on a variety of scales, from small to large, as a hobbyist or professional. Our grain and sawdust spawn options allow you to expand the spawn for indoor or outdoor grows. We pre-sterilize our spawn bags to ensure there is no contamination during the process. We also use high-quality spawn which has served as the workhorse for many professional farmers. Check out our shiitake mushroom grain spawn and our shiitake mushroom sawdust spawn now.

Shiitake mushroom spores to harvest: A brief history and background information

Shiitake mushrooms are native to Japan, Korea, and China. Shiitake is a Japanese word which translates to a mushroom growing on the shii tree: “take” meaning mushroom and “shii” being a kind of evergreen tree that grows in Japan and Korea. The Shii tree is closely related to beech and oak, coming from the same taxonomic family. This is a likely reason why those are the preferred substrates for outdoor cultivation of shiitakes in the U.S.  Shiitake cultivation has evolved from simple log selection methods in Japan to highly mechanized rapid growth methods also developed in Japan. In the beginning of shiitake cultivation freshly cut logs were placed next to logs producing shiitake mushrooms. The spores produced by the mushrooms hopefully colonized the freshly cut logs before another mushroom colonized the wood. Over time growers developed different methods of introducing spores to freshly cut wood but consistent colonization and fruiting was not achieved until the mid 1900s. 

In 1943 K. Mori developed the practice of inoculating logs with wooden wedges that had mycelium throughout. Over several decades this evolved to be the drill and plug system that is now in wide use. These developments allowed log cultivation to become more efficient, reliable, and a larger commercial crop.  Commercial mushroom cultivation on supplemented sawdust was developed and successfully conducted in Japan during the mid 1900’s. Since then, bagging machines and methods of streamlining commercial cultivation have been extensively developed in Japan. One of the great things about shiitake mushroom cultivation is it can happen at both low- and high-tech scales. From backyard woods to large commercial farms shiitakes are now widely cultivated in the United States. Shiitakes are known by many consumers and have a great taste and texture. They can also be dried and still maintain a high quality of flavor and texture. All of these things give this mushroom a lot of versatility and potential for cultivation on any scale from homestead to large business. 

The life cycle of shiitake mushroom spores

Shiitake mushroom spores can remain dormant for some time before germinating or it may immediately germinate mycelium. This mycelium starts from the shiitake mushroom spores and begins growing into its new food source, expanding the mycelial network. Eventually the mycelium needs to fuse with another network in order to be able to produce a mushroom. The mycelium continually exudes enzymes into its growing medium to break down food, create barriers, claim territory, and communicate with its surroundings. Mycelium is a sentient dynamic stage of fungal growth. Most of the life of fungi remains at this stage.  Mycelium only has one cell wall so it must remain in environments that have a high moisture content. You can find mycelium everywhere by rolling logs over or digging into leaves. Anywhere there is organic material mycelium grows. As the mycelium continues to develop, it eats more of the food source and eventually is triggered into producing a mushroom. It may be triggered by environmental cues, competition or a declining food source.  We have shiitake mushroom cultures that will allow you to clone and expand the mycelium of your favorite shiitakes. 

Shiitake mushroom spores, grain spawn, and sawdust spawn

Grain spawn is typically a lower generation and has a higher nutrient profile. This makes grain spawn a good option when the substrate will be further expanded or if you want to add additional nutrients into the substrate.

For example if inoculating grain with the intent of then adding it to a sawdust fruiting block, you would want to use a first or second generation bag of grain spawn. If you were inoculating straw or supplemented sawdust, using grain could be a good option for adding additional nutrients into the substrate. One advantage of using sawdust in this case is that the mycelium is already familiar with eating sawdust, so the leap-off time may be shorter.

Sawdust spawn is the most common type of spawn used for commercial production of shiitake on logs. Sawdust is usually the cheapest of the spawn options and has a relatively quick leap-off because of the small particle sizes. Since there is very little in the way of food reserves for the mycelium to eat, it rapidly looks for a new substrate to grow on. Sawdust spawn is usually third generation when you are buying it from a spawn supplier. When inoculating logs, sawdust spawn requires a specialized tool that costs about $45 called a palm inoculator. Because of this, sawdust is best used when inoculating 20+ logs for multiple years. 

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