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Author Topic: Mushroom Bolts, selling for fun and profit  (Read 878 times)

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Online Old Greenhorn

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Mushroom Bolts, selling for fun and profit
« on: April 05, 2021, 07:57:49 PM »
In my 3-4 years here on the forum I have benefitted greatly from the knowledge and advice offered herein more times than I can recount or could repay. To that end I am offering up something I have learned over the past 5 months or so looking into and working with the idea of selling mushroom bolts as an 'adder' to my income. For sure this is no way to get rich, but for those like me who do "a little of this and a little of that" it is yet another small cash flow point. There are a handful of threads on Mushroom logs from the past dozen years or so on the forum, but most conversation is in passing during another subject. Certainly one who has an interest should check those threads out as well. But I thought here I could put down what I learned as I tried to find a market, cut logs, deliver them, and finally put a few bucks in my pocket.  I have written of this in my yearly thread ' Staying busy and out of trouble' but I wanted to consolidate the details here because a lot was not included in the other thread. Also, understand, I don't grow mushrooms and I don't eat them (knowingly).

 Technical data:
 A Mushroom bolt is a 'log' between 36 and 48" long and 4-6" diameter. Some buyers will accept larger diameter if they have a way to handle them or are growing 'cold weather' mushrooms that don't require shocking or soaking. The logs must have clean bark with little or no scarring from grapples or skidding. a branch cut or two is OK, but this is up to the buyer as to what is acceptable. The trees have to be live healthy trees and cankers, splits, heart rot, and open wounds are not acceptable Some are good with them, and some are not. Maximum sapwood is premium. The occasional scar or branch cut can be covered with wax when the log is inoculated keeping out foreign bacteria but some growers don't know this or like to do it. The IDEAL log is cut when the tree is dormant, between late December and March (in the northeast anyway). Logs can be cut in the summer also after full leaf out, but the lifetime yield of the log may be reduced and many buyers only want winter cut only. Logs should not be cut after bud swell and before trees have full leaf out and are stable. Because of all this, logs are cut to order unless you have known buyers every year.

Species Selection:
 There are many different species of trees that host many different species of Mushrooms. The internet will provide a lot of good lists as to what works with what. There is a lot of 'black magic' old wives tales, growers knowledge, rumors, and plain old misinformation about which species works with what. For Shiitake mudrooms, the oaks (red and white) are solid producers but many insist on white, until they can't get it, then accept red. Sugar maples are also in high demand. Beech is good too and hop hornbeam and Hickory. Refer to those lists out there on the internet. But remember, these buyers have their own sources of knowledge, for good or bad, and want what they want. ;D Another reason everything is cut to order.

The practical side:
 Obviously these bolts have to be cut and handled by hand. Yes, you could be very careful about grabbing a bunch of these pecker poles by the butt and dragging them with only the tops on the ground and get a lot to a yarding spot to cut and load. but all the cutting is by hand. If you are cutting in your own lot or your own job that works out best, do it on a Sunday or something. You can't throw these in a truck, they have to be placed or they will get scared up. Some of these buyers are really picky. The more experienced growers know what they can live with. Anyway, this translates into a LOT of handwork. The most ideal scenario I have seen is a cutter who has a tractor with a loader bucket he can get close to each stalk he cuts and load them in the bucket, fitting about about 30-40 logs in at a time. In any event, there is a LOT of hand work and time involved and if you are not in great shape, it can be tough on the back and legs depending on the environment (flat, sloped, rocky, whatever). The hand work is where the pricing comes from and makes it tough to just roll into a logging operation of any size.

Pricing:
 The internet, and lets face it that's where everyone gets their information when they are starting out, will tell folks the price for good bolts runs from, $0.50 to $3.00 per log. I am here to tell you that $3.00/log is barely break even. I have talked to a bunch of guys who have cut and supplied these logs and we all talk the same talk. 3 bucks is rock bottom, my pricing for any future logs goes to $4.00/log and I know some guys who won't cut for less than $5-6/log because of the handling. The good news is, the buyers will pay that, if that is the market. Keep in mind that shiitake mushrooms garner about $16.00/lb for forest grown stuff and the life of these logs is at least 4-5 years once they are producing with serval crops a year. I also learned NOT to discount the cost based on quantities because the labor is still the same. The price is the price.

 My bottom line, I just sold 113 logs at 3 bucks a piece which took me about 10 hours to harvest and bring home/unload. I paid the landowner 50 bucks for the wood which was more of a 'thank you' than a payment, I figure .50 a log if I am doing all the labor (fell, cut, buck, load). I sold to 3 different customers this 'season'. I talked to another supplier who has about 6 regular customers. The throughput on these is not much, but the network is growing. My client today is still talking about wanting 600 logs next winter. I don't know if I can source that many, but I may have a place....

Bottom Line:
 This is a person to person business in every sense. You can't cut logs until you know the species and size your buyer prefers, or will accept. Every buyer is different. Some know their stuff and have a lot of leeway, many do not because they are just learning and want to play it safe (according to the internet or whatever source they have). Figure out a way to handle the wood, figure out a way to connect with the buyers, hand hold a little and be patient with them, be honest, treat them fair and build your network and maybe it will work out for you. I will stay in it for another season and see what progresses. If nothing else it is a nice source of extra cash. $340. for a pickup load is more than a fair price and a lot more than firewood will bring. I also sold today's client a bag of hardwood planer chips for 10 bucks. Hey, it all gets used right?
 Obviously your mileage may vary. I just wanted to share my lessons learned along the way and put it all in one post for the folks that come down the pike and want to find some information on this.
Tom
Tom Lindtveit, Woodsman Forest Products
Oscar 328 Band Mill, Husky 450, 372 (Clone), Mule 3010, and too many hand tools. :) Retired and trying to make a living to stay that way. NYLT Certified.
OK, maybe I am the woodcutter now.
I can work with wood, but I am NOT a Woodworker, yet.

Offline BargeMonkey

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Re: Mushroom Bolts, selling for fun and profit
« Reply #1 on: April 05, 2021, 08:16:30 PM »
I was thinking about you the other day as I was walking passed the white out im about to hammer from existence.... im talking CLEARCUT.... you have my # 😆 

Online Old Greenhorn

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Re: Mushroom Bolts, selling for fun and profit
« Reply #2 on: April 05, 2021, 08:22:00 PM »
Right now I have no orders. But beyond that I am SO reluctant to mess up one of your jobs with me dicking around, that's why I didn't call you on this job. When I get my act a little more together, get the buyers to understand, and get orders in the fall, then you can pick the job that fits with the jobs you have. I can fill a trailer and get out pretty quick, assuming I can get the trailer close, otherwise it is a stumbling old guy hand carrying one log at a time. But I sure don't want to hold up an operation.
 Thanks man, you are always too kind.
Tom Lindtveit, Woodsman Forest Products
Oscar 328 Band Mill, Husky 450, 372 (Clone), Mule 3010, and too many hand tools. :) Retired and trying to make a living to stay that way. NYLT Certified.
OK, maybe I am the woodcutter now.
I can work with wood, but I am NOT a Woodworker, yet.

Offline BargeMonkey

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Re: Mushroom Bolts, selling for fun and profit
« Reply #3 on: April 05, 2021, 08:32:21 PM »
 Not bothering me, I would rather see you make a buck and it get used, if its not processor wood its going on the burn pile. 

Online Old Greenhorn

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Re: Mushroom Bolts, selling for fun and profit
« Reply #4 on: April 05, 2021, 09:12:35 PM »
Not bothering me, I would rather see you make a buck and it get used, if its not processor wood its going on the burn pile.
4-6" is not likely to make the processor. :D I wanted to get this thing figured out and know exactly (or as close as possible) what I was doing and needed before I bothered a guy like you. I need to get in and out as quick as possible and not be a problem. I think what I learned this season pretty much gave me what I needed. Now I need to work on the buyers, and I don't know if they are 'there'. Time will tell, but I can't take advantage of the lot you have right now.
Tom Lindtveit, Woodsman Forest Products
Oscar 328 Band Mill, Husky 450, 372 (Clone), Mule 3010, and too many hand tools. :) Retired and trying to make a living to stay that way. NYLT Certified.
OK, maybe I am the woodcutter now.
I can work with wood, but I am NOT a Woodworker, yet.

Offline dustintheblood

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Re: Mushroom Bolts, selling for fun and profit
« Reply #5 on: April 05, 2021, 11:35:48 PM »
14,000 holes drilled into hophornbeam bolts a year ago.  All plugged with shiitake spawn and wintered in the sugarbush.

As you folks know, all heck broke loose for me in the late spring of 2020, but the logs are still there and I'm about to do the dunk and smash in a few weeks.

Had researched it for years and wanted to do it for so long, and finally did it.

I hate the taste of mushrooms, but loved the idea of getting something good out of the sugarbush scourge that is ironwood.

Worst case scenario if they fail, is that I have precut bolts for the outdoor boilers.

Will try and take pics tomorrow

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Online Old Greenhorn

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Re: Mushroom Bolts, selling for fun and profit
« Reply #6 on: April 06, 2021, 05:22:01 AM »
Well, you are right at the exciting part of the experiment. Almost all of the waiting is done. How do those logs look on the end? Can you see the mycelium spread? That is a LOT of holes, wonder how may logs you did? Sure hope you have buyers lined up and a place to hide the cash. ;D
 I assume you are soaking and thumping them in group rotations to spread out the harvest? Good luck man, we want some pictures!
 I don't grow, don't have the time or space and it is a lot of load on the back with all the handling/ But I do have some folks just down the road starting up and I sold them logs and gave them others, I'll be giving them the rejects from yesterday too. They are inoculating today, so I get to watch them do the work. ;D
 Good Luck!
Tom Lindtveit, Woodsman Forest Products
Oscar 328 Band Mill, Husky 450, 372 (Clone), Mule 3010, and too many hand tools. :) Retired and trying to make a living to stay that way. NYLT Certified.
OK, maybe I am the woodcutter now.
I can work with wood, but I am NOT a Woodworker, yet.

Offline GullyBog

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Re: Mushroom Bolts, selling for fun and profit
« Reply #7 on: April 06, 2021, 06:37:27 AM »
That's awesome that you've found a product where sapwood is desirable.  Sounds like these shroomers are tough customers.  How long do you have after the wood is cut before it isn't "fresh"?
There might be a little dust on the butt log, but don't let if fool ya bout what's inside

Online thecfarm

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Re: Mushroom Bolts, selling for fun and profit
« Reply #8 on: April 06, 2021, 06:46:01 AM »
I sold some just once. I cut the tree and it was loaded into the back of the truck. All roadside so it was easy, they wanted red oak. But those are my "money" trees and I did not want to cut a $100 tree and get $20 for it. I cut a white maple for them.
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Online Old Greenhorn

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Re: Mushroom Bolts, selling for fun and profit
« Reply #9 on: April 06, 2021, 06:59:45 AM »
The logs have to be stored properly: Cool and out of the direct sunlight. They can be wetted a little from time to time. Most prefer to inoculate them ASAP after cutting, but a month or two is OK if stored/staked properly. I would think 6 months is about the limit. The goal is to get the desired spores in the log before other bacteria get a foot hold and have a chance to be dominant.
 Cfarm, one of the beauties of this thing is using the cull trees you would cut out anyway. Yes, you can use the branches of mature trees too, but the stuff that is being cut and chipped anyway can bring in some cash. Nobody wants pecker poles. Yes, many are very picky about species. I have a gentleman's agreement with a log supplier in the next county that we each refer prospective clients to the other for species we don't have. He sells mostly sugar maple taken from thinning his sugarbush. I don't get much of that. But he can't get red oak, and I get a fair amount of it.
 We are all in this together, that's why I shared what I've learned, maybe somebody else can make a buck.
Tom Lindtveit, Woodsman Forest Products
Oscar 328 Band Mill, Husky 450, 372 (Clone), Mule 3010, and too many hand tools. :) Retired and trying to make a living to stay that way. NYLT Certified.
OK, maybe I am the woodcutter now.
I can work with wood, but I am NOT a Woodworker, yet.

Offline metalspinner

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Re: Mushroom Bolts, selling for fun and profit
« Reply #10 on: April 06, 2021, 08:18:47 AM »
Old Greenhorn

My oldest son, who is in college now, has always had a fascination with growing mushrooms. He would use my planer shavings and tree trimmings to grow different mushrooms. He loves doing it!

Ill forward this link to him as I know he will be interested in following along. 

I wonder if you could remove some of the handling of this wood by having the shroomers load out the wood? Like one of those pick your own berry patches. 🤣 The experience might let the shroomers realize the amount of work and let you raise the price?

Or lease a patch of the woods with the trees already cut that the shroomers can manage and harvest over time?
I do what the little voices in my wife's head tell me to do.

Online Old Greenhorn

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Re: Mushroom Bolts, selling for fun and profit
« Reply #11 on: April 06, 2021, 09:16:28 AM »
Insurance is a big problem. Few if any landowners are going to let anyone one their property to cut their trees, let alone those who have little or no woods experience or gear. I let them pick up in my yard and they get to load their own truck. Or if I deliver I charge and they unload.
It's just some extra income, I don't plan on making a party out of it. :D that is for somebody else to do.
I heard a rumor you are an old scouter, as am I for roughly 30 years. Wood badge, OA, Philmont, and two hitches as SM and council training instructor. Those were the days, but in the past now. I retired from that a dozen years ago or so. Trying to figure out what to do with the memorabilia I have going back to the 1920's. ;D
Tom Lindtveit, Woodsman Forest Products
Oscar 328 Band Mill, Husky 450, 372 (Clone), Mule 3010, and too many hand tools. :) Retired and trying to make a living to stay that way. NYLT Certified.
OK, maybe I am the woodcutter now.
I can work with wood, but I am NOT a Woodworker, yet.

Offline Rhodemont

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Re: Mushroom Bolts, selling for fun and profit
« Reply #12 on: April 06, 2021, 09:53:51 AM »
Nice write up
Temps are about right.  I plan to soak my logs this week to get the shitake growing. I force production twice a year. Have never shocked them with a thump on the end.  As posted in previous thread I replace a couple oak bolts every year and we get enough mushrooms for our own use.  I did get contacted by a couple people asking to buy some bolts.  Sure come on out, $5 each, sold 20.  They were going to be fire wood otherwise.
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Offline metalspinner

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Re: Mushroom Bolts, selling for fun and profit
« Reply #13 on: April 06, 2021, 11:57:06 AM »
Old Greenhorn,
Yep, similar resume to yours but I squeezed it all into only 15 years. 😄
We didn't make it to Philmont. We did go to Seabase a couple times and the Northern Tier. 

I do what the little voices in my wife's head tell me to do.

Online Old Greenhorn

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Re: Mushroom Bolts, selling for fun and profit
« Reply #14 on: April 15, 2021, 07:07:20 PM »
Just a little update on this. Apparently the tricky part of this thing is the networking and dealing with folks and following up on contacts. We all have a wide range of contacts in our own sphere, but the Mushroom crowd is generally not part of it and most of us aren't part of theirs. So you have to interject yourself into their world and 'start making friends' eventually the word gets around.
I don't know if this is going to play out, but currently I am in talks with making arrangements to harvest and transport over 1,000 logs down to NYC. We are now talking about more than beer money. It's over 35,000 pounds of wood, I can't move that in my utility trailer. So now I have gone from 'some extra cash' to tractor trailers, forklifts, paid help, and on and on. There is a market there, you just have to cultivate it. I would have to do a lot of craft fairs and farmers markets to pick up 4 grand. ;D
Tom Lindtveit, Woodsman Forest Products
Oscar 328 Band Mill, Husky 450, 372 (Clone), Mule 3010, and too many hand tools. :) Retired and trying to make a living to stay that way. NYLT Certified.
OK, maybe I am the woodcutter now.
I can work with wood, but I am NOT a Woodworker, yet.

Offline newoodguy78

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Re: Mushroom Bolts, selling for fun and profit
« Reply #15 on: April 16, 2021, 12:19:42 AM »
Old Greenhorn do you see people searching out certain woods for different types of mushrooms? The growing of mushrooms has always intrigued me 

Online Old Greenhorn

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Re: Mushroom Bolts, selling for fun and profit
« Reply #16 on: April 16, 2021, 06:07:20 AM »
Well I don't see them, but I know of them. There are several clubs around here that go on hunting hikes and there are several growers that guide other hikes to help folks identify what they are finding. I had a cousin in NM who belonged to a club and would take a trip each year to someplace around the world hunting certain mushrooms. It can be like anything else, some people really get into it I guess. It's not for me. I just do logs, plain and simple.
Tom Lindtveit, Woodsman Forest Products
Oscar 328 Band Mill, Husky 450, 372 (Clone), Mule 3010, and too many hand tools. :) Retired and trying to make a living to stay that way. NYLT Certified.
OK, maybe I am the woodcutter now.
I can work with wood, but I am NOT a Woodworker, yet.

Offline JBlain

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Re: Mushroom Bolts, selling for fun and profit
« Reply #17 on: April 16, 2021, 07:15:37 PM »
Hello Gentlemen,

I have been cutting 1,000 plus mushroom bolts per year as TSI thin from below for 8 years.  I found red oak and sugar maple to be the best followed by the rest of the oaks.  I have had moderate yields from Ironwood, hickory and beech.  It's real work.  I use a ranger and buck them in the woods to 42" and haul them out with no damage.  Feels great to turn a junk 6" dbh suppressed oak into $40...

We also inoculate logs for personal shiitake consumption.   My 5 year old daughter just picked a bucket full tonight and pickec the years first morels on our big ridge.

There are markets there, you just have to find them.  


Online Old Greenhorn

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Re: Mushroom Bolts, selling for fun and profit
« Reply #18 on: April 16, 2021, 07:54:31 PM »
Man that's a lot of logs! Do you inoculate them and sell them that way. Seems like that is a good money business. How do you find the buyers?
Tom Lindtveit, Woodsman Forest Products
Oscar 328 Band Mill, Husky 450, 372 (Clone), Mule 3010, and too many hand tools. :) Retired and trying to make a living to stay that way. NYLT Certified.
OK, maybe I am the woodcutter now.
I can work with wood, but I am NOT a Woodworker, yet.

Offline JBlain

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Re: Mushroom Bolts, selling for fun and profit
« Reply #19 on: April 16, 2021, 09:03:24 PM »
I just sell the bolt to local mushroom growers.  They inoculate them.  Going rate around here delivered is 4 to 5 a bolt.  We have a mushroom party with friends every year and inoculate 100 or so logs for everyone's personal consumption.  We have logs up to 6 years old that are basically dust that still produce a few mushrooms per year.  You could sell inoculated logs for about 20 a piece.  It's an interesting niche market that can work well for improving your timber stands.



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