How long does it take for a mushroom log to start?

starting mushroom logs

Unlike substrate mushroom growing, mushroom log farming is slightly more complex. This is the main reason why many people shy away from it. The incubation process is the most time-consuming and complicated step in mushroom log farming. On average, it takes 6-24 months before your mushroom logs can fully incubate. 

Factors that Determine Mushroom Log Incubation Period

The incubation period is dependent on a variety of factors;

Type of Mushroom 

Different mushroom spawns take different periods to colonize mushroom logs. Oyster spawns can colonize a log in 3-12 months, while Lion’s mane and Comb Tooth mushroom spawns may take up to 2 years. 

Most gourmet mushrooms take longer to start fruiting. Maitake, Shiitake, Nameko, Reishi, and Chicken of the Woods take longer than 12 months to fruit. They mostly fruit on the following fall after one year of incubation. 

Mushroom Spawn Strain

White, Golden, Kira, Italian, and Pohu mushroom strains have different colonization periods and fruiting patterns. This also applies to all other types of mushrooms and their different strains.

Shiitake mushrooms, for instance, have 13 mushroom strains that fall under three different categories depending on their weather preference. They also tend to do better in different temperature conditions. This means they require specific incubating conditions for them to colonize successfully.

Type of Wood Used

The type of wood will affect the colonization period because softer woods are much easier to colonize. Soft hardwoods such as poplar and basswood will get colonized faster than hardwoods such as oak and maple. The density of the wood also plays a key part in the colonization speed. 

Additionally, logs with more sapwood than heartwood colonize faster as there are more nutrients for the mushroom mycelium to feed on as it spreads. These log types also tend to produce more mushrooms.

Size of the Mushroom Log

Mushroom logs thicker in diameter will take longer to colonize than thinner logs. Additionally, longer logs will take longer to colonize than shorter logs, as the mycelium will take longer to run through the longer log. 

Maintenance Schedule

Mushroom logs require consistent moisture levels for them to incubate successfully. 

The Weather Conditions

Mushrooms like cool and humid weather. If you live in a temperate climate, your logs will take roughly 12 months to colonize. On the other hand, if you live in an extremely cold climate, your logs may take up to 24 months to colonize. 

Winter can make your mycelium dormant, so the logs will take longer to colonize fully. Extreme heat also slows down the colonization process. And so does extreme dryness, leading to moisture loss from the log. 

Spawn Inoculation Technique

The closer you put your spawn while inoculating the logs, the faster the mycelium will spread and colonize the log. On the other hand, the further apart the mushroom spawns, the longer it will take for the log to get fully colonized.

Additionally, some mushroom spawns, such as shiitake mushrooms, spread poorly. For the best results, you should inoculate your logs in a diamond pattern with fairly minimal spacing. 3-4 inches apart is ideal for optimal results. 

Crucial Mushroom Log Care Tips

  • Keep your logs off the ground for the first few months of incubation to prevent moisture loss, especially during winter.
  • Use the stacking method to increase airflow during incubation and to conserve moisture. It will also make harvesting mushrooms much easier.
  • Stack your logs in a humid and shaded area under a tree canopy or some bushes. 
  • Do not place your logs on the ground with decaying matter, such as rotting leaves and dead branches, as they may contain fungi that contaminate your logs.
  • Use wooden pallets, cinder blocks, or bricks to elevate the mushroom logs off the ground for the first 6-12 months.
  • Store your mushroom logs indoors if you live in an environment with extreme winters. This will prevent the mycelium from going dormant.

How to Accelerate Mushroom Log Colonization

Follow these tips to enable your mushroom logs fruit faster;

  1. Water your logs regularly, especially during the hot summer months, to maintain optimum moisture levels in the logs. This is important as the mushroom mycelia needs constant hydration for it to be able to spread throughout the log.
  2. Once you notice that the logs have started being colonized, change the stacking arrangement to increase airflow and create space for the mushrooms to grow. Lean them vertically against a fence or grid stack them.
  3. Once your logs are fully colonized, you can shock your mushroom logs by hitting them with a mallet or dropping them on the ground.