It may be helpful to understand the ecology of mushrooms before you get started hunting your own, or even growing them. A mushroom itself is a fruiting body, kind of like the acorn of an oak tree. The fungi itself (the tree trunk) is often hidden from our eyes either in the soil or the trunk of a rotting tree. Sometimes you can find them; they may appear as long, white, interconnected strands. Those strands are finding the nutrients needed to keep them growing. When conditions are right (usually a combination of day length, humidity, and heat), they will produce a mushroom.
This is a busy time of year around our offices as our Learn About Your Classes have started, in 23 locations and on the web. One of our topics is planning for your forest, so I thought I would take some time today to share some insights with you. I was reading a couple of resources in preparation for my talk, and came across a good entry. The topic was “Why people don’t manage…and why they should”. Several reasons were mentioned: “I hunt, and am not interested in the trees”, “we just want a place to retire”, “I don’t want my land damaged by a logger”, and “I don’t know what to do”.
Family members are invited to participate in activities like deer hunting, and asked to help with tree planting and harvesting. But more often then not, their input is not looked for when decisions are being made regarding the management of the woodlot. Many times they are turned off by the phrase “my woods”, when they could be encouraged to be a part of the “family forest”.
Just this past week, I saw a local florist advertising that they are now purchasing boughs (or branches from conifer trees). In fact, nationwide, the most frequently sold NTFP is boughs. The most common use for boughs is of course wreaths. Other uses include garland, floral arrangements and producing aromatic oils. Luckily for those of us in Wisconsin, the preferred tree species for wreaths is balsam fir (Abies balsamea) which is a very common species in the state.
As forestry educators, we often focus on timber sales (we want them to go well after all), but there are many more goods that can be harvested from woodlands for recreational or financial reasons. These goods are usually called non-timber forest products (NTFPs), which although states what they aren’t, does a good job of indicating they are too numerous to try to categorize otherwise. This entry will spend some time discussing what NTFPs are, why landowners might be interested in them, and what resources exist to support landowners who want to pursue various products.
Forestry has changed little since this brochure was published in the 1960’s, but the role of a forester and what they can do for you, if anything, has broadened. It is important to consider a forester for any activities you want to partake in on your property. A good forester is trained in the art and science of forest management, and can help you improve your forest for your needs and the forest’s needs. If you are considering a timber sale, working with a forester almost always guarantees you a better price for your wood.